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Car hits tree, bursts into flames
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A car full of teens crashed and burst into flames Thursday night after speeding on West End Avenue.
“I was sitting on my front porch about 200 feet away and I could feel the impact when it hit,” said Matt Lewis, who was just a few doors down from the crash which happened in the front yard of a West End Avenue home. “As loud as it was, they must have been flying when they hit that ditch and tree.”
Injured in the crash were driver Christian Alexander, 17, and Devin Dunford, 15, both of whom were critically injured and airlifted from the airport to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga. Two others, Ryan Armstrong, 17, and Johnathan Ivy, 15, were treated at River Park Hospital.
The impact of the crash left the teens trapped inside the burning wreckage prompting fast action by neighborhood residents.
“The fire was everywhere and we were trying to get them out,” Lewis recalled, noting he was tugging at one boy’s seatbelt as the flames were getting hotter. “Thank goodness someone came running up with a garden hose. If it weren’t for that hose we all would have been done for.”
A preliminary investigation revealed the youths were heading westbound on West End when the driver lost control of the car causing it to go off the road and strike a ditch. The vehicle then crossed through the front yard of 534 West End and struck a tree nearly head-on. This address is roughly behind Cleaners Express.
While police do not suspect alcohol, there is a strong suspicion speed was a factor. Charges are pending.