14-year-old girl identified as driver in deadly Encino crash

A family member told Eyewitness News the passenger who died is a girl, though her age is unknown.

Carlos Granda Image
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
2 teens rescued from fiery Encino crash; 3rd teen in backseat dead
A 14-year-old girl was behind the wheel of a car that crashed in Encino, killing a 16-year-old girl in the backseat.

ENCINO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 14-year-old girl was behind the wheel of a car that crashed and erupted in flames in Encino overnight, leaving one passenger dead.

The single-vehicle crash happened around 12:15 a.m. Tuesday near Ventura and Balboa boulevards, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Police say officers initially tried to pull over the car for not having headlights on.

Instead of stopping, police say the teen driver sped away. A short time later, the car crashed into a traffic light pole.

Dramatic video shows officers trying to extinguish the flames that enveloped the vehicle and trying to smash the windows to get the rear passenger out.

There were three people inside the car. The driver and the front passenger, identified only as an 18-year-old woman, were pulled out of the vehicle with minor injuries. Police said one had a broken leg.

A 16-year-old female passenger in the backseat was trapped in the vehicle, police said, and was declared dead at the scene. The family of that victim brought flowers to the crash scene but did not want to comment.

Howard Raishbrook, a photographer who tried to help the victims, described the harrowing scene.

"I can see a big orange bowl of fire, and I can see LAPD rushing toward this, smashing out the windows," he said. "I'm like, 'Hopefully, everybody's out.' They were pulling two people out. I heard one of the victims say, 'There's someone else in the car.' So I ran back, grabbed my fire extinguisher, tried to help. I mean, I put the fire extinguisher through, it didn't seem to do too much, and luckily, the fire station was a block away, so they came and put the fire out. But the heat was intense. I was worried about it exploding. I could hear bangs as I'm running up."

It's unclear what other factors led up to the crash or if the driver will face any charges. Police say the driver did not show signs of impairment when she was evaluated at the hospital.

Authorities say all three people in the car were friends and lived near each other. The incident remains under investigation.