FREMONT -- Two people died and two more went to the hospital Monday afternoon after a driver smashed into oncoming traffic on Fremont Boulevard and careened into a flood control canal in a crash authorities believe may have been caused by someone attempting to avoid a traffic stop.
Police surmise that the driver of a 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo saw an officer make a U-turn in the rearview mirror and sped to avoid being stopped.
An officer patrolling about 1:30 p.m. in the Irvington District saw a car he deemed suspicious and made a U-turn on Delaware Drive to follow it, Lt. Tony Duckworth said.
The officer did not use lights or sirens and made a legal turn, Duckworth said, intending to record the car's license plate. But the Chevrolet outpaced the patrol car, and the officer lost sight of it.
Dispatchers then sent the officer to another call, but soon thereafter he came across a crash at the intersection of Fremont and Delaware.
"He came upon the intersection and found a crash, and bystanders gesturing down into the drainage ditch," Duckworth said.
The Chevrolet ran a red light while crossing Fremont, Duckworth said, and hit a 1999 Dodge Durango in the intersection, which in turn hit a 2004 Ford pickup waiting for a turn light. The Chevrolet careened into the canal.
While a driver and passenger in Ford escaped unhurt, paramedics treated the driver of the Ford for minor injuries.
A 35-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman in the Chevrolet died at the scene, while the other two in the car, a 30-year-old man and woman, went to the hospital in critical condition. Police had not identified any of the people in the Chevrolet as of Monday evening.
The canal had several inches of water in it, but the car was not submerged, Duckworth said. The crash did close the intersection for hours while police investigated. Duckworth expected the investigation to continue until about 10 p.m.