Fiery Menlo Park collision leads to DUI arrest | June 5, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

News - June 5, 2019

Fiery Menlo Park collision leads to DUI arrest

by Kate Bradshaw

An SUV driver who on May 26 collided with a 1960s Buick Riviera occupied by four young men and women in Menlo Park, causing the Buick to catch fire, has been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to Menlo Park police.

The driver was the only occupant of the small, four-door SUV that struck the larger, two-door Buick before crashing into a traffic signal pole at around 12:26 a.m., according to Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman. Firefighters were dispatched at 12:28.

The collision to the rear of the Buick punctured the fuel tank, which caused the car to erupt in flames, and the vehicle ended up about 100 feet down El Camino Real, in front of the Mattress Firm store, according to Schapelhouman.

The four occupants in the Buick tried to get out, but the doors were jammed shut from the collision. They pounded and kicked on the driver's side door as the car filled with smoke, and were eventually able to get out.

Shortly after, the interior of the vehicle caught fire. According to Schapelhouman, two of the occupants sustained second-degree burns and injuries from the impact, and all of them had experienced smoke inhalation. Three later went to the hospital, police said. Firefighters extinguished the fire upon arrival.

The driver of the SUV, later identified as a 25-year-old man from Menlo Park, was taken by paramedics to the hospital for treatment of what police called major but non-life-threatening injuries. Schapelhouman indicated they were injuries to his head and upper body.

Based on evidence at the scene, witness statements and observations by police, the man driving the SUV was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and causing bodily injury, according to police.

"This was a terrible vehicle accident that could have easily turned tragic if the four occupants of the Buick were unable to escape the vehicle or if it had ended up inside one of the commercial buildings that border El Camino Real," Schapelhouman commented in a written statement.

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