Two children and three adults were killed early Sunday in Queens when the car they were driving in struck a concrete pillar, rolled over and burst into flames.
Three others were injured, police said.
The black Mercedes Benz SUV lost control on Atlantic Avenue near the Van Wyck Expressway around 3 a.m. Sunday, police said. The vehicle, carrying eight people, hit a pillar that supports the AirTrain to Kennedy Airport, causing it to flip over and roll. Witnesses said several passengers were thrown from the vehicle.
The SUV eventually came to a rest on its passenger side and burst into flames.
Responding firefighters extinguished the blaze and extracted the remaining passengers. Five of them were pronounced dead at the scene.
They were identified Monday as 8-year-old Munachimso Obioha, a girl, and 9-year-old Ebube Obafor-Mba, a boy. Sixty-year-old Gladys Nnena Johnson Obioha, 45-year-old Chiwe McDonald and Christine Epchon, age unknown, were identified as the adult women killed.
"I heard an explosion. It sounded like a bomb," said Carlos Suarez, who witnessed the gruesome scene in the accident's aftermath. "Everybody was on the floor dying. It was very bad."
The 45-year-old driver was taken to Jamaica Hospital along with her 7-year-old son and a 26-year-old man. Police said they are in stable condition.
No other cars were involved in the accident.
Police say the accident was probably caused by speeding.
On Sunday afternoon, grieving family members of some of the victims gathered outside Jamaica Hospital.
"Nobody's coping," said Evelyn Anyogu, a cousin of one of the dead. "How do you cope?"
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