YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Five people were killed in a multi-car crash on Tuesday night. Police said they were attempting to stop an erratic driver, who sped off and then collided with another vehicle.
Jarring video shows the moment of impact.
The accident happened just before 9:30 p.m. on Riverdale Avenue near Culver Street in Yonkers. Police said four teenagers in one car and the driver of the other died, CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported.
Video shows a car speeding down the street and crashing into another, resulting in one of the vehicles being torn in half, with pieces scattered everywhere.
A neighbor said she heard the loud bang.
"I didn't know what it was, so I go outside look through the window because I live nearby and I saw a guy running. Oh my God. Oh my God," resident Maria Delgado said. "I saw a lot of people, police, everything. I couldn't believe it."
Yonkers police said officers witnessed a white Infiniti being operated in an erratic manner in the area of South Broadway and Prospect Street. It also allegedly had equipment violations.
Officers attempted to stop the car, which appeared to pull over on Riverdale Avenue before accelerating. Police followed.
The driver was said to be driving at "beyond reckless speeds" and slammed into a Nissan turning right onto the road.
The crash split the Nissan in half, killing four 18-year-old men inside, police said. They were identified as Randy Brisbane, Tamari Watkins, Anthony Cruz and Brandon Sierra.
The driver of the Infiniti, identified by police as 36-year-old Devon Haywood, died at the hospital.
Yonkers police stressed officers were not engaged in a high-speed pursuit.
"We are asking the media to please not transpose the actions of the reckless driver on to the officers trying to enforce the law," Det. Lt. Dean Politopoulos said in a statement. "This was a terrible tragedy and we mourn the loss of these four young men. Our officers are trained to assess every situation and in this case disengaged and did not pursue to avoid this exact type of outcome. The sector car was approximately 15 seconds behind and not in emergency mode. The driver of the Infiniti, Devon Haywood, has a history of reckless driving. Our sincere condolences to the families. I cannot fathom their loss."
Added Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano: "Last night's car accident on Riverdale Avenue was nothing short of tragic. Four young lives were cut short by the recklessness of one individual. 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. My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those lost, especially during this holiday season."
DeAngelis spoke to victim Sierra's cousin.
"He was a great person. He always saw the light in every situation and we all, everybody in my family, we all just spoke to him yesterday the day of. Some spoke to him an hour or two before this happened. It's crazy to know that now he's gone now. We still can't accept that fact, really," Michael Reyes said.
He said his cousin and friends had just graduated high school a few months ago and were enjoying a night together.
News of the tragedy reached Albany, where state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who is from Yonkers, offered her condolences.
"My heart breaks for the families impacted by this horrific and devastating car crash. Their worlds will be forever changed. We do not know all the details yet, as the crash remains under investigation, but we must always be looking for ways to make our roadways as safe as possible. I am certainly monitoring the situation closely and sending my sincere condolences to the families and their loved ones," Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
Friends and families gathered later Wednesday for a vigil for the victims. Candles were placed at the corner of Riverdale and Culver.
"We were basically family. Even though they're not blood, it hurt a lot. Last night was a lot," said John Armstrong, a friend of the teen victims.
"Enough is enough. How many lives have to be ended to realize that you gotta do the right thing when it comes to the road. You have to respect the road, respect everyone in it, realize it's not only your life, it's others'," friend Anthony Molina added. "We have to really cherish our moments with each other. Life is not [forever]. It is short."
Friends of Haywood also set up a memorial, and said he was a wonderful guy.
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