Late Friday nite (Oct. 25), I happened to be looking towards the 19th Avenue and Winston Drive intersection outside the Stonestown, Galleria Mall, SF, when a major accident occurred.
A car at high speed ran into another car doing a turn in the intersection. There was a loud bang and an orange fireball (just like a Hollywood movie) appeared over one car. The cars moved about 10 yards, and one car remained in the road while the other stopped on the sidewalk. I noticed a police car stopped before the intersection immediately (ie. instantaneously) after the accident. There was a lot of smoke drifting over the road.
The collision was intense and violent. It happened so fast that very few details beyond that were apparent. I remember thinking, “I hope the people in the 2 cars are ok” and “I don’t need to see something like this.”
Cars continued to drive and turn through the unblocked lane next to the accident. I remember the distinct crunching of plastic and metal parts that were on the road.
Several more police cars arrived within a minute or two while one policeman emptied a small fire extinguisher at the car. I was impressed with the speedy arrival of so many police cars, and also the heroism that several policemen quickly approached the smoking car on a street full of traffic.
(According to the skid marks I saw the next day, it was the high-speed car that ended up on the sidewalk. It applied brakes heavily but briefly, then veered at a 45 degree angle from its lane, over a small median island, onto the sidewalk, and dug into the grass, which stopped it.)
Map of accident at 19th Avenue and Winston, SF
I guess the questions I have now are:
- if a car explodes, does that mean all the gasoline has been consumed and it’s safe to approach?
- how are the occupants doing?
- the police did a great job – after all, this was like a war zone on a busy street. I wonder if there should be more procedure to always carry fire extinguishers towards a burning car, or carry gloves, but they’re not firemen.
- Was this a police chase? That would explain the high rate of speed and proximity of so many police cars.