Thousands of people were enjoying the La Raza Ride, a motorcycle festival at Chicano Park Saturday afternoon, when a pickup truck flew off the Coronado Bridge landing right on top of a vendor’s table and killing four people.
"I saw a car flying through the air, right off the bridge. It looked like -- I couldn't see anybody driving the car. It looked like as if Superman had thrown a car right off the bridge. It was just flying down," Dolores D'Angelo, who has been singing with a band performing at the festival, said.
Suddenly, she saw debris and dust flying off the bridge, then saw parts of the car scattered everywhere.
"Pieces of car parts were flying all over the place. When we got up, we turned around, everybody started running over there because we realized there were people sitting there – there were people sitting right there," D'Angelo said. "We were trying to get in to see if we could maybe lift up the car, move the car out of the way to see if we could get the people out. There were so many people crowded by then,” she said breathlessly.
D’Angelo said she attempted to call 911 several times, but wasn’t sure if she got through because she was so nervous.
“I heard a crashing sound,” witness Isaac Cardoza said. “At first I thought it was a really loud motorcycle coming into the show or something. For some reason I just looked up there. I see a big mass of something up in the air. I personally thought it was a big piece of cardboard flying. Eventually, once it started flying more over the stage I realized it was a car backwards, facedown. It landed right on two booths…It landed and instantly crushed them.”
Cardoza said as soon as the truck landed the crowd ran over to try to help the victims.
“The whole crowd running to go over there and try and help out with the truck, lift it up, trying to get the people pinned in there,” he said. “I was in a state of shock, unbelievable. I was like a movie.”
George Rodriguez was also enjoying the festival with his friends.
“We heard a big crash just on the side of the freeway coming north and the truck flew off and it landed on this tent where these people were just sitting there having a good time, killed em all! It was horrible. Just death right in front of us!” he exclaimed. “Just to see that, I’ll tell you, we’re tough as nails, but to see that just broke us, to see that, just broke us, man.”
David Mendoza and his girlfriend were looking at T-shirts at a booth just before the truck crashed.
“There was a vendor selling T-shirts. We were looking at the T-shirts, we walked away. No sooner did we walk away the truck comes over the bridge and lands right on that vendor’s booth. Our first reaction was to run to the vehicle and see what happened and then our second reaction was to get away because we saw bodies underneath the truck and it scared us to death,” he said. “We got away just in time. I’ll tell ya.”
Andrew Gonzales was one of several people who moved the truck to help the driver get out.
“We ran to the truck, we flipped it over, opened the window and three of us guys pulled him out. I was one of the main ones that stood with them,” Gonzales said. “That’s your natural instinct to make sure that a person is okay … It wasn’t only me, there were a lot of us.”
Rick Valenzuela and Hugo Perez helped pull the truck off people trapped underneath. A couple of their friends were injured in the crash.
“[It] took quite a few of us to lift that truck and flip it over to get those people loose from underneath the truck,” Valenzuela said. “You see four people laying there and they’re dead, and their body parts are broken, which they were twisted, broken, arms and legs. It’s not good … I feel for them and their families.”
“We all ran over there and tried to get the truck off the people,” Perez said. “We all pretty much took action. Whatever we could we did … Flipped the truck over, yanked my friend away and his wife, sat them down.”
Perez said eventually the police arrived and took over. Valenzuela and Perez explained their friends were bruised but weren’t seriously hurt.
“He’s pretty jacked up but he’s talking. No bones broken and everything, but he got pretty bumped up,” Valenzuela said of one friend.
“It was a bad situation,” Perez told NBC 7. “The people that passed on, we send out our prayers to their family. And all we can do is be grateful nobody else got hurt.”