Three people were killed and two people were injured following a two-vehicle crash late Friday night in southwest Santa Maria.
At about 11:19 p.m., a Santa Maria Police officer observed a white Toyota pickup truck driving recklessly westbound on Stowell Road from the JC Penney parking lot, authorities said. Shortly after, the officer reported a possible traffic collision at the intersection of Stowell and Blosser roads.
Upon arrival, officials found that there were two vehicles -- the Toyota truck and a Cadillac Escalade -- involved in the crash and both sustained major damages.
Three of the four patients (two adults and one child) in the Cadillac were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Santa Maria Fire Battalion Chief Tony Clayburg. The other occupant was transported to Marian Regional Medical Center via ambulance.
The driver of the Toyota was airlifted to Cottage Hospital via CALSTAR helicopter, and was listed in critical condition Saturday afternoon.
Clayburg said Santa Maria Police officials suspect a high rate of speed to be a factor in the collision but could not comment any further as the investigation continues.
No arrests have been made at this time, as the surviving parties are still currently hospitalized, said Police Department Lt. Russ Mengel.
"Our officer tried to stop the pickup truck as he exited the JC Penney parking lot and fled westbound, but the driver was so reckless, the pursuit stopped at Depot and the police couldn't even see him at that point," Mengel said. "The officer then happened upon the crash and spoke to witnesses at the scene who said the pickup truck was driving so fast it shook their cars as it flew by."
Police believe that drugs and/or alcohol were a factor in the collision, Mengel said.
"It was definitely one of the worst crashes we've ever witnessed here," he said.
The crash also resulted in debris flying into the windows of a flooring store business located at Blosser and Stowell roads. A power pole was knocked down and had fallen against a tree at the northwest side of Blosser and had to be removed Saturday morning.
"We'll continue investigating the incident, look at all of the footage from video cameras that were captured from businesses in the area and talk to more witnesses," Mengel said.
Check back for more updates.