Five killed, three injured in fiery Queens car crash
Five people -- including two children -- were killed early Sunday morning when a black 2008 Mercedes-Benz SUV they were riding in smashed into a concrete pillar, flipped and burst into flames in Queens.
The SUV was carrying eight people when it hit into the pillar at about 3:18 a.m. on Atlantic Avenue near the Van Wyck Expressway in Jamaica, according to the NYPD. It then flipped over and rolled onto its passenger side before flames shot out.
The five were pronounced dead at the scene, including an 8-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy, and three women. The force of the crash tossed some of the passengers from the vehicle and onto the street, an NYPD spokesman said Sunday morning. Firefighters used extraction tools to cut some victims from the vehicle, according to officials.
One of those killed was Nnenna Obioha, a Michigan resident, according to a family member.
"Nnenna is my cousin, my best friend, my everything," a grieving Evelyn Anyaog, 68, of the Bronx, said. "This is tragic, very tragic."
Obioha was a founder of Arondizuogu Daughters Association USA, which encourages development and education in Arondizuogu, Nigeria, her cousin said.
Anyaog, Obioha and others from Nigerian region had gathered over the weekend at a conference at the DoubleTree hotel in Queens to discuss ways to fund projects in their home country.
She said Obioha had been headed for the Bronx and planned to go next to the airport to fly back to Michigan.
The victims were all related and were coming from a Queens event held by the Arondizuogu Patriotic Union of North America, said Larry Alisa, a member of that group. The group supports health and education causes around Arondizuogu, Nigeria, according to its website.
Police did not identify any of the passengers last night.
The unidentified 45-year-old female driver was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center with the other survivors: a 7-year-old boy, and a 26-year-old man.
A spokeswoman for Jamaica Hospital, Joanne Ariola, said the man was treated and released, the boy was in the pediatric emergency room and the driver was in surgery.
Police said no other vehicles were involved in the incident, and that there were "no indications" the driver had used drugs or alcohol before the accident. They were still investigating the cause of the crash last night, and said they were eyeing speed as a possible factor.
"Nobody is coping," Anyaog said of her community. "How do you cope? It is not one death. It's two, three, four, five."