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15-year-old boy dies after fiery crash on Southern California highway

A 15-year-old boy who was allegedly driving a stolen vehicle when it crashed and burst into flames on a Long Beach highway Monday evening has died.

The California Highway Patrol said the teen, whose identity has not been released, was driving a 2020 Kia north on Highway 710 near Anaheim Street and attempted to pass a Freightliner tractor-trailer around 10:30 p.m. according to a press release.

CHP investigators believe the teen was attempting to exit the highway, but the vehicle ended up directly in front of the Freightliner, which “crashed into the right side of the stolen Kia.”

The Kia then caught fire. Footage from Key News Network showed first responders pulling the occupants from the burning vehicle.

The teen was seriously injured and was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, officials said. Its three passengers, another boy aged 14 and two girls aged 13 and 15, suffered minor injuries and were taken to local trauma centers.

CHP initially said the Long Beach Police Department was pursuing the Kia. However, the LBPD later said they were “tracking” the vehicle only by helicopter and that no officers were pursuing it on the ground.

“This tragic event highlights a national trend of juveniles stealing vehicles and driving recklessly,” Long Beach Police Chief Wally Hebeish said in a statement. “Although the driver of the vehicle ultimately succumbed to his injuries, I must commend the police officers for their heroic actions. I am extremely proud of their courage and willingness to run into this dangerous situation to rescue the occupants.

It is unclear whether alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in the crash, authorities said.

Officials did not say whether the 22-year-old Paramount man who was driving the 2024 Freightliner was injured.

The collision led to a partial closure of Highway 710 for several hours.

Anyone with information is asked to call the CHP at 424-551-4000 or 323-259-3200.

News Source : ktla.com
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