On Thursday in Melbourne, Australia, a freak car accident caused a vehicle to burst into flames instantaneously, leaving 3 teenagers dead and investigators working to determine how and why such a thing occurred.
Witnesses reported seeing a Mercedes-Benz sedan fishtailing as it pulled off of a side street and onto Westgarth Road in Melbourne's inner north. Moments later, the vehicle ran off the road, struck a parked car, slammed into a tree, and wound up wedged in between a utility pole and a brick wall. The occupants were trapped inside.
The accident brought down several power lines, and also caused the Mercedes' gas tank to rupture and then ignite only moments later. Initially, police believed that the power lines had started the blaze, but they later determined that the fire was likely caused by engine heat or a spark from the car's battery. Within seconds, the occupants were incinerated.
It may be weeks before the victims are formally identified: the bodies were so badly burned that police will have to use dental records and DNA to make a definitive identification. However, they believe they know who the victims are: three young men, the 19 year-old driver and 2 friends, both age 18. In fact, the fire was so severe that police initially feared there was a 4th victim. It took a full day for them to confirm that there were only 3 people in the vehicle.
According to media reports, the driver was speeding at the time of the crash, but not excessively. Police continue to investigate what caused the Mercedes to fishtail, since that fishtailing was the catalyst for the accident. They will attempt to determine if the driver intentionally caused his tires to spin, or if he swerved to avoid an obstacle in the roadway and then lost traction in the rainy conditions. Police have already ruled out alcohol as a possible contributing factor.
Especially at this time of year, teen roadway safety is of paramount importance. Studies have shown that the coming summer months are the 100 deadliest days of the year for teen drivers. 9 of the 10 deadliest days for teens on our roadways are during the months of May through August, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Parents are urged to speak with their teen drivers about the responsibility of safe driving and the consequences of making poor decisions behind the wheel.