Visalia car dealership sustains an estimated $400,000 in damage after crash

FRESNO, Calif.

The car missed a bend in the road when the accident happened over the weekend on Ben Maddox Way near Tulare Avenue.

The damages are estimated to be $400,000, but there are still many unanswered questions for investigators, including why the driver and passengers jumped out of the car after the 4 a.m. crash. Police say based on the impact, the people in the car may also be injured.

Cell phone video shows four Chevy Silverado pickups engulfed in flames. Police say the crash happened before dawn Sunday morning, when the driver of a Nissan Maxima slammed into the car lot, hitting a pole, igniting a fire and shearing off a fire hydrant.

Witnesses who called 911 told police they saw several people who were in the car running from the burning scene.

"Obviously we can track down documentation. We know who the registered owner is,"" Ozzie Dominguez with the Visalia Police Department said. "We look forward to contacting the registered owner and getting some insight into who was driving the vehicle at the time of the collision."

It took firefighters 20 minutes to take down the flames. When the fire was out, investigators got a closer look at the damages. Dominguez says officers are also looking to see whether any surveillance cameras in the area may have captured the car before or after the crash.

The owner of Giant Automotive, Jack Petty, says one passerby has provided some valuable tips.

"There was an eyewitness who had videoed the episode and he heard them yell let's get out of here," Petty said.

The dealership owner says the fire likely began when the gas tank in the Maxima was punctured; causing gas to leak, and then spark. Police say there have been accidents both in south and northbound lanes when the road curves, but none have ended in a big fire.

The Chevy trucks are a total loss and valued at $200,000. Other damages to the car lot and pole are estimated to be an additional $150,000 to $200,000.

When the driver is found, he or she will likely face felony hit and run charges. They could also face additional charges based on what investigators uncover.

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