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LOS ANGELES -- Both the scene and the toll of a fiery six-vehicle crash were staggering.
A van going through an intersection barreled into a second van that had sped through a red light Monday, causing a collision that killed five people and involved nearly 20 victims, sending several of them to the hospital in critical condition.
The first vehicle hit the speeding van on one side just before 6 p.m. and "made it go airborne," setting off a chain reaction that left three vehicles ablaze, melted a traffic signal and scattered debris across the intersection, said police spokeswoman Karen Smith.
"By the time the van landed," Smith said, "it was fully engulfed in flames."
A 12-year-old boy was ejected from a vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, Smith said. Two other victims of the accident, in the Hyde Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles, were found burned beyond recognition inside a vehicle.
The scene was "hellacious," said Smith.
Paramedics took at least 14 people to the hospital, where a 7-year-old and an adult later died of injuries and six were in critical condition, Smith said.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the scene and emergency workers set up a triage area. The identities of the passengers were not immediately released.
The site still was closed to traffic more than nine hours after the crash as investigators continued to work the scene.
Earlier Monday, an SUV tumbled down a steep slope in the Hollywood Hills, killing two people and injuring three others, authorities said.
The vehicle went off the road just before 8 a.m. in Laurel Canyon, said Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. The car plunged 200 to 300 feet down a hillside and came to rest upside down against a carport.
Humphrey said a man in his 70s was trapped in the vehicle and died at the scene. A woman in her 20s died later after being rushed to a hospital, he said. Three others, including a 1-year-old boy, were taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with various injuries.
Two people were thrown from the vehicle. It wasn't immediately known who was driving or if the victims were related. The cause of the crash is under investigation.