Father's Family Crash Nightmare: Can't Rescue His Wife, 4 Kids

Tuesday, 18 Feb 2014 12:20 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A father watched his family die in a fiery car crash Saturday night near Fresno, Calif., after trying unsuccessfully to rescue his 29-year-old wife and four young children, ages 1, 3, 6 and 11.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Axel Reyes, the father, whose name was not released to the media, was following his wife and children in another car when they stopped at a stop sign. Seconds later a minivan collided with the wife's 2003 Ford SUV, the Associated Press reported.

The father was approximately a quarter-mile behind the rest of his family when he saw the flames shoot up, added police. When he arrived at the scene he attempted to break the windows of the car to no avail. He reportedly suffered minor burns to his hands in the process, according to Reyes.

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The driver of the minivan, 41-year-old Juana Martinez Bejarano, survived the accident and is reportedly being treated at a hospital for major injuries. Witnesses told police the minivan was traveling at about 60 mph when it collided with the other vehicle.

The minivan driver has yet to be charged.

According to Reyes, illegal drugs or alcohol are not believed to have played a role in the accident. Medication, however, might have been a factor in the crash, police added.

"You almost could not have timed it any better, the two front corners" of the two vehicles struck at the worst angle — right near the engine blocks — likely leading to the fire, Reyes told the AP.

Lori Pierce, who lived by the intersection where the fatal accident occurred, told the Fresno Bee that the sound made by the crash was something out of a horror film.

"My husband ran out, he saw a car engulfed in flames and a man running around the car wanting to get his family out," Pierce said. "He was in such shock we just had to pull him away."

"He lost his whole family in five seconds because somebody couldn't stop."

Lori's husband Robert added that at one point the flames shot 15 feet in the air.

According to the couple, there have been seven preventable fatalities at the intersection since they moved there 15 years ago.

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