KALAMAZOO (WWJ) – Five people are dead after a speeding vehicle crashed and ignited in flames in Kalamazoo overnight.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas says the group was in a Dodge Charger that went zooming by a deputy who was parked along East Main around 12:45 a.m. Saturday.

“A Kalamazoo Township police officer was along the side of the road, he spotted a car going by him at a speed he estimated to be 100 miles per hour,” Matyas told WWJ’s Michael Cohen. “The officer turned his overhead lights on and intended to stop the vehicle. About a half mile later — there’s a bend in the road — the officer comes around the bend, doesn’t see the car anymore so he shuts everything down. … There was no chase.”

Because the vehicle was traveling at such a high rate of speed, the officer feared he would come upon a crash scene if he continued driving.

“He stayed in the area and looked for the vehicle,” said Matyas. “A few moments later, he came to East Main and Sprinkle road, he looked in the distance and he could see an orange glow. He went to that orange glow and it was indeed the vehicle that he had seen earlier and it was on fire.”

The crash scene was horrific. Five people inside the vehicle were killed upon impact.

“When the vehicle went off the road, and it left a tremendous amount of skid marks, it went off and snapped a tree that was about a foot or so in diameter, snapped it right in half,” said Matyas. “That tree is laying across the road and the car is down in a ditch, kind of a small ravine. Getting that vehicle, which is really just a managed twist of metal at the moment, getting that vehicle out is going to be problematic, too.”

Matyas said the victims’ bodies were consumed when the vehicle ignited, and it could take days or even weeks before all five are identified.

“We have a strong idea who one of the persons are and I’ve spoken to that person’s father, it’s someone I happen to know,” he said. “The other four we just have no idea who they are. … I’m going to say based on the one we do know, it’s going to definitely be younger — but we couldn’t tell you male or female at this point. We could try identification straight up but it’s probably going to come down to dental records, and that takes a while.”

The road closed for several hours but has since reopened to traffic.

The crash remains under investigation.

Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for the latest. 


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