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Driver Is Arrested After Fiery Crash Kills 2

September 29, 2000|RICHARD FAUSSET | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A 25-year-old Van Nuys man who police said may have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol was booked on suspicion of murder Thursday after a fiery early morning collision that left two people dead.

Police said Sharrieff Saunders was driving a Nissan sedan at a high rate of speed about 2:35 a.m. when he struck another Nissan sedan driving in the same eastbound lane of Vanowen Street in North Hollywood.

The second car burst into flames, police said, and Saunders and a nearby resident attempted to free the two victims, who have not been identified. The blaze prevented the victims from being rescued.

An area resident said she saw Saunders run away after attempting to rescue the motorists.

"As soon as the neighbors came out, he ran away," said Guadalupe Navarrete. "But he tried to help quite a bit."

Saunders, who was badly burned, was arrested by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department's North Hollywood Division. He was taken to County-USC Medical Center, where he was in critical condition in the prison ward. His bail is $1 million.

"We think he was under the influence of something," said Det. Bill Bustos of the Valley Traffic Division, which is investigating.

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