2 killed after Corvette crashes into building, bursts into flames in Gardena

GARDENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Two men were killed when a car they were in crashed into a Gardena business and erupted in flames Wednesday night.

Authorities said the crash happened around 8:15 p.m. in the 13000 block of Crenshaw Boulevard, near El Segundo Boulevard. The vehicle, a 2006 Chevrolet Corvette, somehow lost control before hitting a power pole, then the building. The impact caused the gas tank to rupture, resulting in a fire.

The two men inside the Corvette were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

One of the victims was identified by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner as 20-year-old Jose Padilla. The second victim was identified by a friend as Alvaro Martinez.

"He was my best friend, he was always there for me. It sucks to wake up this morning and hear he passed away," said friend Luis Mendoza.

Gardena police said that based on the initial evidence and witness statements, the vehicle was "clearly" traveling above the speed limit.

One witness, Cesar Hernandez, said he tried to help when he saw the fiery scene.

"There was an explosion, and when we heard the explosion, we actually took off running, and we tried to go back but we couldn't rescue him no more because the flames got bigger," he said.

A surveillance camera on the business captured the violent crash. Though the video hasn't been released, it shows a second car slowing down then continuing on just after the crash.

"I'm disappointed in him. We would always talk about racing and stuff, but, us -- we'd never really do it," Mendoza said.

Police have not confirmed whether street racing was involved in the crash.

Crenshaw Boulevard from 135th Street to El Segundo Boulevard was closed for several hours as an investigation into the cause of the wreck continued.

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