A midday street race in Santa Clara turned deadly Sunday when one man lost control of his car and slammed into a tree, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The crash was first reported at 12:34 p.m. near the intersection of Homestead Road and San Tomas Expressway, CHP Officer Ross Lee said.
The driver, a San Jose man in his 20s, was driving a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Lee.
Witnesses at the scene told officers the Chevy and another vehicle had been seen racing, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph, Lee said. Officers said the driver was racing a gray Acura, and they are now searching for that car and driver, who fled the scene, the CHP said.
When the cars came to a stoplight, the Chevy swerved right, striking the sidewalk and then a tree. The vehicle caught fire but firefighters responded and quickly extinguished the blaze.
The car hit the tree so hard, it sent debris flying over the retaining wall, and neighbors said it could easily have hit kids playing in their backyards.
"Absolutely there would have been people hurt with all those pieces going over the wall," resident Steven Hames said, adding that an oil pump landed on his hot tub, where his nephew could have been playing.
Hames said part of the fence came down at his house and those nearby. Other neighbors felt the impact too.
"My house shook," Alex Koss said.
Hames and other neighbors said they hear street racers often. "At night, it's constant," he said.
CHP officers said it's unusual to see street racing in the area during the day. Neighbors said they want better enforcement to prevent the busy expressway from becoming a raceway in the future.