Teen was speeding in fiery fatal crash into gas pumps, investigators say
A 18-year-old driver was killed after crashing into a fuel pump that burst into flames at a Dania Beach gas station Tuesday night, authorities said.
The incident happened at the BP Gas on the Southeast 7th Street and South Federal Highway around 9:20 p.m., Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue officials said.
According to BSO investigators, Jose RomeRo was traveling west on 7th Street in a 2005 Ford Mustang when he lost control after going over a speed hump, sending the car between two gas pumps before it caught fire. The impact was so strong the gas pump almost ended up on the road.
Firefighters responded and were able to put out the fire within minutes using foam, but they were unable to get Romero out and he was declared dead at the scene.
"I turned around looking for another fire extinguisher and on the wall was the emergency shutoff, and I ran over and hit it and all the power cut to the pumps and the overhead lighting, and by that point the flames were just too much for the powder fire extinguishers to do anything," witness Scott Robb said.
"There wouldn't have been any possible way that the victim could've gotten out of the car because the car was fully involved, it was all engulfed in flames," said Michael Wolf, a witness to the crash.
No one was pumping gas at the time of the crash. Officials believe speed played a factor in the crash, but their investigation continues and an autopsy will be performed.
a booming crash, a spray of debris onto Federal Highway, and two-foot flames leaping from beneath an overturned car as it leaked fuel was the scene a Dania Beach man happened upon Tuesday night.
The convertible Ford Mustang with an 18-year-old driver at the wheel had careened into fuel pumps at a BP station a moment before, igniting the explosive fire.
“I looked over and saw the car on its side where the pump normally is,” Scott Robb, 47, of Dania Beach, said Wednesday. “There was about two-foot flames coming from under the car and you could see fuel leaking, and it progressed from there.”
The young driver died at the scene, 701 S. Federal Highway. He was identified as Jose Villeda Romero, of Hollywood, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Instinctively, Robb had grabbed a fire extinguisher to join another man in an attempt to put out the fire. “There was no pin, I pulled the handle and nothing happened, I looked at the gauge and it was empty.”
In a frantic search for another extinguisher, Robb spotted the fuel pump emergency shut-off button near the door of the convenience store. He hit it. The overhead lights went dark, power to the pumps cut off — but it was too late.
“At that point it was too far engulfed to get any closer,” Robb said. “Unfortunately there was just so little we could do.”
He never saw or heard Romero trapped inside the car. “It was disappointing to see so many people just filming it on their cellphones rather than doing anything,” Robb said.
The young man’s grieving relatives told reporters at the BP station Wednesday that Romero, originally from Honduras, had been in this country only about eight months and was working to support his immediate family back home. A cousin said the convertible 2005 Ford Mustang was Romero’s dream car.
“I don’t know what was going through his mind,” Henry Gutierrez, a cousin, told WSVN-Ch. 7.
Romero was speeding west in the eastbound lanes of Southeast Seventh Street shortly before 9:30 p.m. when he drove over a speed hump, lost control and slammed into the pumps, said Mike Jachles, spokesman for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue.
Firefighters arrived to find the Mustang wedged on its side between two fuel islands. One pump flamed; parts of another had been hurled onto the highway.
“Crews made a quick knock down of the active fuel fire with firefighting foam,” Jachles said. “The car was on its side, vertically. The fuel pump sheared off and was thrown about 50 to 75 feet into the street.”
The convenience store reopened Wednesday, but the gas pumps remained closed and cordoned off with police tape. The fuel island was charred and clumps of twisted and burned metal, aluminum and plastic littered the ground. It’s not clear when gas pumping would resume.
T.J. Gillespie, who lives nearby, heard the crash and saw the smoke Tuesday night. He returned Wednesday to look at the damage.
“All I see is just a black cloud and I can’t quite figure out what the cloud is from yet, so I run outside my house and I look over here at the gas station,” he said. “And that’s when I see that the car was already on fire.”
Romero’s relatives identified him by the name of Ricardo Sanabria. Investigators, however, say the name Jose Villeda Romero is from his driver’s license.“The family calls him another name,” Jachles said. “But the name that we released is his legal name in the state of Florida