FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A central California man helplessly watched his wife and four young children perish in a fiery crash after trying unsuccessfully to rescue his family from the burning vehicle, authorities said Sunday.
The man was driving behind his family Saturday night when the driver of a minivan ran a stop sign at a Fresno County intersection and struck his wife and children in their Ford Expedition, California Highway Patrol Officer Axel Reyes said.
The SUV was thrown to the front lawn of a home and burst into flames, trapping inside the 29-year-old mother and her children, boys ages 1 and 3 and girls ages 6 and 11.
The father told officers he was driving about a quarter-mile behind his family and saw a flash of flames. The SUV was already on fire when he reached them. He tried to free his family from the vehicle, including breaking the windows, and suffered minor burns to his hands in the process, Reyes said.
CHP Capt. Dave Paris told KSEE-TV that the mother also tried to escape but didn't make it.
A couple who lived near the crash site said they had to pull the man from the burning SUV.
"He seemed to be so distraught, he was wanting to get his wife and children out of the car and my husband had to intervene because he was in such shock," Lori Pierce told KFSN-TV.
The minivan's driver, Juana Martinez Bejarano, 41, was being treated at a hospital for major injuries.
The CHP was investigating the crash, and has not announced an arrest.