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Probe Continues in Fiery Fatal Crash

July 02, 1999

TUSTIN — A day after two young half brothers died in a fiery car crash, Tustin police continued to try to unravel what happened, even using a helicopter to take aerial photos.

Wednesday's explosive fire has perplexed experienced traffic investigators, who said most car fires are small and mostly smoke.

"I've seen a ton of vehicle fires," said Tustin Police Sgt. Steve Lewis, the traffic supervisor. "but none where it goes up like this."

Mazdas do not have a history of catching fire, but an investigator from Mazda North American Operations was working with police.

David Howard, age 4, and his half brother, Jerrod Howard, 4 months, died in the fire.

The parents, Perry Howard, 32, and Angela Howard, 24, remained in critical condition Thursday at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange. Things were looking better for Angela, whose burns over 50% to 60% of her body were not as extensive as originally thought. Tustin police said she has an 80% chance of survival. Perry was burned over 40% of his body, police said.

The family was waiting to make a left turn when their Mazda was hit from behind. The Mazda caught fire and the collision pushed it into oncoming traffic, where another car smashed into it.

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