OAKLAND -- A man was killed and four others critically injured early Sunday when their car flipped into a group of trees behind Mills College in East Oakland.
Fire crews responded about 2:34 a.m. after reports of a rollover accident at the intersection of Seminary and Outlook avenues, Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Emon Usher said.
Firefighters arrived and found four people trapped inside the 1991 white Toyota, which had been crushed between four trees.
One of the victims in the back seat, a man who has not been identified, was pronounced dead at the hospital several hours later. The four other victims remain hospitalized in critical condition, the most severely injured being a woman who was sitting in the front passenger seat.
The car was headed south on Seminary Avenue from Interstate 580 when the driver failed to navigate a turn and drove beneath a fence, Usher said. The car looked like it had been trapped "in a cage of trees," having been scraped by a tree on either side and stopped by two trees in front of it.
Fire crews called in the Jaws of Life to extricate the victims, and the machine quickly removed the roof from the mangled vehicle. Three men and one woman, who were found with visible broken limbs and lacerations over their bodies, were removed from the vehicle and taken to Eden and Highland hospitals within 15 minutes, Usher said.
"I don't know if I've seen that many people get pulled out of a car and whisked away the way they did," Usher said. "Between fire crews and Oakland police, it was a great effort by all involved."
According to police, the 25-year-old Oakland woman who had been driving the car walked about a half mile to the other side of the Mills College campus and began trying to get a ride at 55th Avenue and Macarthur Boulevard. A group of students called campus security, and she was taken to the hospital to be treated for her injuries.
Police believe speed was a factor in the crash, and said the car had been going considerably faster than the 35-mph speed limit. It was not known if the occupants were wearing seat belts, and the cause of the crash remains under investigation.