BY TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
One person died when the car he was driving exploded into flames during a police chase that ended on Michigan Avenue on Detroit's west side.
"I heard it hit, I turned to look and the fireball came by," David Burchfield, 76, said, sitting inside The Telway diner, with the burned out shell of the truck, the driver's body still inside, just outside the window. "I felt the heat of it come by."
The chase began at about 6:25 a.m. in Taylor, when officers there spotted the truck, which had been reported stolen out of Monroe, Michigan State Police Trooper John Gora said.
They chased the truck for a few minutes, then stopped. But a Michigan State Police trooper spotted it again near downtown Detroit, chasing the stolen truck onto the Lodge and Michigan Avenue.
As the truck headed west on Michigan Avenue through the Martin Road intersection just west of Livernois, it hit a Plymouth Voyager minivan heading in the opposite direction trying to turn left, across the van's path and north onto Martin, Gora said.
The crash sent the stolen truck skidding into another pick-up pulling out of the Telway.
"He hit this truck, he hit that light post, then 'Boom!'" said Sean Fuson, 45, who was standing on the intersection corner drinking his coffee as the crash happened in front of him. "As soon as he hit it, the car went up in flames."
The woman in the red minivan was sitting in the van's passenger side seat, talking to Michigan State Police investigators after the crash, then was whisked away in a MSP patrol car. Witnesses said the driver of the truck pulling out of the Telway was alert and not seriously injured in the crash, but looked like he was in shock.
The pickup in the chase was was burned so badly its make and model were unrecognizable. Parts including tires, rims, a battery and a drive shaft, were scattered as far as a block away.
"I don't know what he was thinking," Gora said. "For whatever reason he didn't stop. It is sad."
The intersection remained closed this morning, with sheets still covering the burned-out truck and the body inside while police investigate.
Police expect the intersection to remain closed at least until 11 a.m. today.
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