Witnesses described a horrific scene.
A Hagerstown man was prounced dead Monday morning at a Baltimore hospital after the car he was driving west on Jefferson Street on Sunday night struck an oncoming car, went airborne, hit a utility pole and burst into flames, according to police and eyewitnesses.
Norman Chavez Frazier, 25, of 1307 Lindsay Lane, Hagerstown, died Monday morning at R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he was flown for treatment for life-threatening injuries, Washingon County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Carly Hose said.
Hose said Frazier's body was being taken to the medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy.
Witnesses described a horrific scene, including hearing two explosions and the man being on fire in his car and screaming for help.
The man’s burned-out car sat in the middle of Jefferson Street on Sunday night and a car engine sat a short distance away in the street.
The four occupants in the other car were taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, Hose said.
A Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy conducting speed enforcement tried to stop the man near the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Antietam Drive, but the man took off and traveled west on Jefferson Boulevard at a high rate of speed, Hose said.
Hose said the man stopped, but he took off before the deputy could get out of his vehicle.
The man almost caused several accidents before the wreck, said Sgt. Jack Willis.
The man hit the oncoming car near the intersection of Jefferson and Vale streets at about 6 p.m. A man, woman and two young children were in the car that was hit, Hose said. The occupants were taken to Meritus Medical Center, but Hose said she did not know their conditions.
Ron Miller, who lives on Jefferson Street, said he was getting ready to put his kids to bed when he heard “a huge explosion.”
Miller said he heard another explosion and went outside to see what was happening.
He said the man’s car was on fire and all he could see was a face and a hand.
Miller said he went to the man’s car and screamed for the man to roll away from his car because parts of the car were exploding.
“He was on fire completely,” Miller said.
Miller said he was able to get the man away from the car and onto the ground. Hose said a deputy also helped rescue the man.
Another nearby resident, Stephen Lord, said he came to the car with a fire extinguisher and put out the fire on the man.
The man was conscious after Lord put the fire out, according to Lord and Miller.
“He kept asking us if he was going to die. I was telling him ‘you just need to keep breathing and talk to us,’” Miller said.
Eyewitness John Williams of Clear Spring said he was driving home after deer hunting when the crash occurred.
Williams, who was heading west on Jefferson Street, said the man who fled from police went around him at a high rate of speed just before he crashed.
After the man’s car hit the oncoming vehicle, it went airborne and struck the utility pole, Williams said.
“It burst into flames immediately,” Williams said. “He (the man) was completely engulfed in flames. It was sick. You talk about something that shakes you up. That guy coming out of the car on fire, I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Hose said the deputy who tried to stop the man was behind him after the man refused to stop. But Hose said police have to use caution about how to pursue a person and must not follow a vehicle too closely.
Bradley Jones, who lives on North Potomac Street and who arrived at the scene when the car was still on fire, said a police officer arrived at the scene about a minute later.
Hose praised those who helped the burned man.
“When you get situations like this, you can see the best in people,” Hose said.