A crash involving three cars in Maryland killed four people and severely injured more than a dozen. The devastating post-crash inferno has hindered investigation. One of the vehicles involved in the crash was a church van, which was ferrying a few adults and children.
Four people were killed and 14 others injured, including children, after a church van crashed into a pickup truck and caught fire in Hyattsville, Maryland, on Sunday. Two adults and a child travelling in the church van, along with the driver of the pickup truck, died in the crash. Reports indicate there was one more vehicle that was involved in the crash. Six children and eight adults travelling in the vehicles were rushed to nearby local hospitals.
Eight of the victims, including four children and four adults, have been listed as "critical" in the hospital. According to Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady, police believe the pickup truck initially rear-ended a passenger vehicle a few hundred feet down Chillum Road, an open stretch of four-lane roadway, reported the New York Times. Though it hit the vehicle, the pickup continued on, losing control on the way. Apart from a simple double yellow center line to separate the opposing traffic lanes, the road didn't have any lane dividers, crash barriers, or a median strip, allowing the pickup truck to go straight into the path of a church van coming in opposite direction. The van struck it on the right side and the truck caught fire, said Brady.
"The fire actually involved the pickup truck and not the van."Brady tweeted about the accident saying, "I am on location in 2100 block of Chillum Road in Hyattsville of a horrific crash involving a passenger van. Multiple fatalities and injured." He added that that the crash was one of the worst scenes he has witnessed in his 40-year career. He confirmed all of the adults in the church van were in their 20s and 30s, and the ages of the children ranged between 4 and 10 years, reported Fox News. Though identities of all the victims haven't been ascertained, neither their names, nor the church group or driver's names, will be released. The authorities are expected to confirm the identities only after the next-of-kin or relatives of all the victims have been notified. Fire Chief Marc Bashoor confirmed over 60 fire-fighting units from Prince George's County and nearby Montgomery County, have responded and are in the process of assessing the damage and taking remedial action, reported Reuters. He too, has been tweeting about the horrific crash, saying as follows.
"Accidents like Chillum Road are difficult for everyone. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the injured and deceased."Authorities are still trying to piece together the Maryland crash details, and they are expected to attempt reconstructing the accident in exacting detail to find out what could have gone wrong. Brady added that the mental impact of the accident was assumed to be so big, firefighters were asked to go through a "critical incident" debriefing afterward. Officials like fire fighters or those in law enforcement, who are involved with such accidents or gruesome crime scenes, are often asked to participate in such debriefing sessions which assess the mental stability of the personnel to ensure they are OK. Such accidents often leave a lasting impression on those dealing with them and have to be counseled.
The number of casualties in the Maryland crash could have been even higher, but quite a few heroic bystanders braved the flames to extract the crash victims to safety. It is believed that bystanders successfully pulled out at least four children, before the flames became too dangerous.
The Hyattsville Fire Department said its prayers were with the victims and their families involved in the Maryland crash, reported NBC News.
[Image via Twitter]