ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — “It was just like a bomb went off in the neighborhood,” said Bruce Register, a resident who lives across the street from Sunday afternoon’s fatal motor vehicle crash involving a stolen van. The accident started on Jefferson Avenue, where police say an officer spotted four suspects in a van that was reported stolen a week earlier.
Before the officer had a chance to pursue, the van allegedly sped away, ending up on Seward Street and crashing into another car going south. Police say one of the victims was pronounced dead on the scene, with the other in the hospital fighting for his life.
Register was sitting in his home, about to watch football with his 7-year-old son, when it happened. He described it as a loud bang. He quickly ran out the door. “On my way out the door I see a police officer pulling up behind the SUV,” he said. “Of course, from there, it was just carnage all over the place.”
He ran up to the victim’s car, where two passengers were unconscious, and for a moment thought of trying to get them out. “I came back and told the officer, I said, ‘You need to call the ambulance, they really hurt down,” he said. “There was a big cloud of smoke I didn’t know if the car was going to catch on fire or anything like that.”
Cpt. Frank Umbrino, with the Rochester Police Major Crimes Unit, says this was one of the worst accidents he’s seen in a long time. “The impact was so severe that the engine of the victim’s vehicle actually came out of the car,” he said. “It was very sad to see.”
Register says similar incidents have happened on this street in the past, but nothing taking a life. “Last summer a car came this way, right up into my house, almost hit my gas line,” he said. “Almost blew my house up.”
Register says the crash on Sunday was traumatizing to watch, especially with a young child. “He’s peeking out the window, of course,” he said. “I’ve owned my home for 18 years. I’m ready to move—last couple years, there’s been so many incidents on this corner.”
As of Monday evening, police said the other passenger in the victim’s car is still in critical condition and fighting for his life, and that the four suspects were released from the hospital.