The surveillance video shows a car that streaked across the avenue like a comet and then burst into flames as it collided with an oncoming sedan, splitting it clean in half.
In the sedan were four 18-year-old men, recent high school graduates and residents of Yonkers, in Westchester County, where the crash took place late on Tuesday. All four died at the scene, Yonkers police officials said. The driver of the speeding car, a 36-year-old man, was extricated from his 2009 Infiniti and transported to a trauma center, where he died from his injuries.
Shortly before the crash, the police had observed the 2009 Infiniti, which was moving erratically in the area of South Broadway and Prospect Street in Yonkers, and tried to stop it in front of Riverdale Avenue. The driver briefly pulled over, but then immediately accelerated “beyond reckless speeds” on the avenue as it approached the intersection at Culver Street, the police said.
At the same time, a silver Nissan, occupied by the four young men, was entering the intersection. The speeding car collided with the Nissan, “resulting in catastrophic damage to both vehicles,” a statement from the police said on Wednesday, adding: “The force of the impact split the Nissan in half.”
The police identified the four young men in the Nissan as Brandon Sierra, Randy Brisbane and Tamari Watkins, who graduated from Saunders Trades and Technical High School in Yonkers in June, and Anthony Cruz, a recent graduate of Riverside High School in Yonkers. The driver of the Infiniti was identified as Devon Haywood of Mount Vernon, N.Y.
“This unthinkable tragedy, the loss of four young people with their lives ahead of them, breaks our hearts,” said Edwin M. Quezada, superintendent of the Yonkers Public Schools.
The speeding driver, Mr. Haywood, had a criminal history. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to a felony drug possession charge after police found him hiding a bag of cocaine in his sock, according to court records. He was sentenced to a year in the Westchester County jail.
Mr. Haywood also served time in federal prison after pleading guilty to selling five grams of crack cocaine in 2005, court records show.
After his release, in 2011, he was shot eight times while walking out of a store, according to a document filed by his probation officer . “He has almost fully recovered and he has a bullet still lodged in his face and two in his leg,” the official wrote.
The crash stunned Maria Delgado, 74, who lives near the scene. She was on the phone, about to take out the trash, when she heard a deafening noise and went to her window.
“I thought there was a shooting, and then realized it was a crash,” she said.
She added: “I was so shocked. I’ve never seen an accident like this. I’ve never seen a car so completely split. Oh, my God.”
Mayor Mike Spano of Yonkers said the tragic accident was a reminder of the dangers of speeding.
“Four young lives were cut short by the recklessness of one individual,” he said in a statement. “Let this be a lesson to all who drive at excessive speeds — it not only puts your life at risk but also the innocent lives with whom you share the road.”
Jack Begg contributed research.