Three Hollister teens burned to death and a fourth was seriously
injured in an accident at Shore and Fairview roads Monday night
that began with a stolen Jaguar and ended with a fiery explosion in
the parking lot of Denice
&
amp; Filice Packing Co.
Hollister – Three Hollister teens burned to death and a fourth was seriously injured in an accident at Shore and Fairview roads Monday night that began with a stolen Jaguar and ended with a fiery explosion in the parking lot of Denice & Filice Packing Co.

Vanessa Jimenez, 13, Albert Andrew Hernandez, 13, and a 16-year-old male who has only been identified as “Mondo” were killed after being trapped inside a stolen car that exploded after hitting a power pole while traveling approximately 100 mph, according to law enforcement and Jimenez’s family. Another 13-year-old female, whose name is being withheld because she is a juvenile, was ejected from the car and was placed in a drug-induced coma by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center personnel, according to the California Highway Patrol. Law enforcement are waiting to identify the 16-year-old through dental records, said Sheriff Curtis Hill.

The 13-year-old was flown to the hospital by CALSTAR with facial lacerations, a collapsed lung, a fractured vertebrae and burns to the left side of her body that were caused from the intense heat of the burning car, said CHP Officer Terry Mayes. She is in stable but critical condition, according to the CHP.

Philip Vessey, who lives next door to the packing company, had taken his dog outside for some fresh air about 30 seconds before the car crashed through two concrete posts, a chain-link fence and a power pole, he said.

Vessey saw the car explode, fly through the air, overturn and come to rest on its top about 15 feet from the side of the packing company, he said.

He and a worker at Denice & Filice helped pull the girl away from the car, and could hear at least one of the occupants screaming inside, he said.

“We tried to get them out of the car but it was burning too fast. It got real hot real fast,” he said. “It’s not something you see every day. It’s not something you forget.”

The incident began earlier that day when the two girls stole a 2001 Jaguar and assorted diamond jewelry from the home of a Hollister woman after going to a slumber party at the residence Sunday night, Mayes said. The girls went to the home in the 600 block of Las Palmas Drive after school and told their 11-year-old friend they were going to take her mother’s car, because they knew she would be at work, she said.

Hours later, after they had picked up the two boys, the car was spotted by CHP Officer Matt Kostielney on Frazier Lake Road running stop signs and driving recklessly, Mayes said. After attempting to stop the car, the driver fled from the officer at speeds approaching 100 mph, she said.

Kostielney witnessed the Jaguar traveling eastbound on Frazier Lake Road a little before 10:30pm, Mayes said. The car ran a stop sign, turned onto Shore Road and continued driving on the wrong side of the road, almost onto the shoulder, Mayes said.

“He was stopping what he believed to be a DUI,” she said.

Kostielney turned on his lights and the car stopped and pulled over, Mayes said. He did not know the car was stolen at the time, she said.

As Kostielney was walking up to the car, he saw the male driver slide into the back seat and a male passenger in the back seat get out of the car, hop into the driver’s seat and take off, she said. Officers do not know who was driving at this time.

“(The boy) immediately stuck it in drive and accelerated away and turned off the lights,” she said.

Kostielney ran back to his patrol car and reported a failure to stop to the dispatch center, but by the time he was able to pursue them the car was about a quarter mile down the road, Mayes said.

The car continued to run stop signs going between 80 and 100 mph, but Kostielney couldn’t see the vehicle and didn’t know there were four juveniles in the car, she said. After the driver sped through the intersection known as Four Corners, at Fairview, Shore and San Felipe roads, he attempted to negotiate a curve but lost control, Mayes said.

The impact from the collision was so severe that it severed the fuel lines in the car and burst into flames as it overturned in the air, she said.

When Kostielney arrived moments later, he attempted to get his fire extinguisher out of his car but realized the flames were so intense it wouldn’t do any good, Mayes said.

“It won’t kick a flame down that size,” she said. “Then he became concerned because people were coming out of the packing shed and he was trying to protect the other people.”

One of the male occupants was thrown from the vehicle and trapped between the bumper and the hood of the car, and the two other victims remained pinned in the vehicle, she said.

“He could hear them,” she said. “He couldn’t help them.”

Fifteen firefighters from the California Department of Forestry and San Benito County Fire Department arrived at the scene around 10:45pm and had the fire completely extinguished in about two minutes, said CDF Battalion Chief Jeff Row.

About $10,000 worth of damage was caused to the side of the packing company due to flames that reached about 1,500 degrees and burned for 12 to 15 minutes, Row estimated.

All three occupants were deceased by the time firefighters extinguished the fire, he said.

“It was pretty ugly,” he said. “It’s one of the things that rank in my top five to remember.”

CHP officers don’t know why the girls took the Jaguar, Mayes said. Well before the crash, the girls stole two diamond rings, a pair of diamond earrings and a diamond necklace along with the car, Mayes said. Some of the stolen property was found with the charred vehicle, she said.

Mayes said the woman who reported the car stolen discovered the girls had taken her car and jewelry when she got home from work around 7:30pm, but didn’t report the car stolen until 10:44pm, according to the Hollister police log.

Mayes said she didn’t know why the woman waited so long to make the report. The woman was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Mayes said it is possible the 13-year-old girl who survived could be charged with theft of the vehicle and possessing stolen property.

“It will be an ongoing investigation for awhile,” she said. “We’ll see what charges arise.”

The CHP does not know if alcohol or drugs were involved at this time, Mayes said.

If the girl is charged, District Attorney John Sarsfield said she would be charged as a juvenile because children under 14 are never charged as adults, no matter how egregious the crime.

“It’s so speculative I don’t even want to venture a guess… as to what possible charges could be,” Sarsfield said. “When the Highway Patrol gets done with their report they’ll send it over and I’ll take a look at it.”

Erin Musgrave covers public safety for the Free Lance. Reach her at 637-5566, ext. 336 or [email protected]

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