The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Both the scene and the toll of a fiery six-vehicle crash were staggering.
A van going through an intersection barreled into a second van that had sped through a red light Monday, causing a collision that killed five people and injured 16, several of them critically.
The first vehicle hit the speeding van on one side just before 6 p.m. and "made it go airborne," setting off a chain reaction that set three vehicles ablaze, melted a traffic signal and scattered debris across the intersection, said police Officer Karen Smith.
"By the time the van landed it was fully engulfed in flames," Smith said.
Three of the dead were children traveling in the first van. A 12-year-old boy was ejected from that vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, Officer Ana Aguirre said. A 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy from that van died later, Aguirre said.
Two people in the van that ran the red light in the Hyde Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles were found burned beyond recognition inside the vehicle.
The scene was "hellacious," said Smith.
More than 100 firefighters were sent to the scene. The victims' identities were not immediately released.
Earlier Monday, an SUV tumbled down a steep slope in Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, killing two people and injuring three others, said Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. The car plunged 200 to 300 feet down a hillside and came to rest upside down against a carport.
Humphrey said a man in his 70s died at the scene and a woman in her 20s died later at a hospital.
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The cause of the crash was under investigation.