MIAMI (WSVN) - Two people were killed and two others were rushed to the hospital after, officials said, a car and an SUV collided at an intersection in Miami, sending the smaller vehicle into a nearby gas station, where it burst into flames.
Miami Fire Rescue and Police responded to the scene at the Chevron gas station located near Northwest 27th Avenue and 17th Street, Sunday, at around 4 a.m.
Officials found a white BMW sedan at the gas station engulfed in flames. “It was just a total chaos, and people were panicking,” said witness Joel Michel, “and then the car is on fire, blazing and you just heard popping sounds, as if the car was going to explode.”
According to investigators, the BMW was heading south on Northwest 27th Avenue at a high rate of speed when it collided with a Honda CRV that was heading in the opposite direction and making a left onto Northwest 17th Avenue.
Officials said the passenger in the overturned SUV, identified as 40-year-old Howard Lara, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Lara’s son, 17-year-old Isander Lara, told 7News he found out the tragic news when he got home. “I see my little brother crying, and I went and everybody else was crying,” he said. “They told me my dad had passed away.”
The driver of the CRV, identified as 38-year-old Eric Barahona, was a friend of Lara. He was pulled out of the vehicle and rushed to the hospital.
“We had one male that was pulled out of the vehicle not breathing, and he was transported to Ryder Trauma Center in extremely critical condition,” said Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll.
But Barahona would not survive.
According to officials, the white BMW smashed into a gas pump, causing it to catch fire. Cellphone video captured the tense scene.
Chevron employee Denis Castellon said he was worried the vehicle would blow up. “The gas station is on fire. It’s going to explode,” he said.
Crews had to take caution due to the danger posed by the fire and downed electrical wires. However, no officials were injured.
Carroll said Miami Police officers assisted crews with extricating the two passengers inside the mangled car. “Officers actually arrived on the scene and assisted with pulling these two adult males out of this vehicle before the vehicle was actually consumed in fire,” he said.
The driver of the BMW was identified as 22-year-old Felix Ramos, and his passenger was identified as 22-year-old Xavier Fabian.
They were both transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where Ramos is listed in stable condition and Fabian remains in critical but stable condition.
The BMW was removed from the gas station just after 10 a.m.
A friend of Barahona who asked not to be identified or show her face on camera told 7News she has known the victim since high school. “He’s a great guy, he’s a hardworking man,” she said as she fought back tears.
Meanwhile, Lara’s grieving family is trying to make sense of the tragedy. “I want people to know that he was a great guy,” said Isander, “and that he was an amazing person and an amazing dad.”
Police said the streets were wet at the time of the crash. It remains under investigation.
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