ST. THOMAS — A 19-year-old St. Thomas teen is dead after a fiery crash Sunday morning in Estate Nazareth, and a series of delays that stalled rescue efforts.
Authorities say the driver, identified by kin as Joseph Santana of Sugar Estate, crashed his Toyota Corolla into a utility pole around 1:25 a.m. The collision left Santana trapped as the vehicle erupted in flames.
V.I. Fire Service Assistant Director Antonio Stevens said the collision caused an islandwide power outage that prevented emergency dispatcher from contacting the nearest fire station — in this case, Lima Company located in Estate Tutu.
As such, the dispatcher reached out to Hotel Company near Charlotte Amalie High School, which, in turn, relayed a message to Lima Company about the blaze. Stevens said Lima Company arrived on scene at around 1:46 a.m., roughly 14 minutes after the first call.
The delay was compounded further. “Because it was an electrical pole, [firefighters] could not immediately engage with water,” Stevens said, noting that fire crews had to ensure live wires were cleared away to prevent further danger to the victim or to themselves.
“They also had to make sure the car was cool enough to do the extrication,” Stevens added.
Santana was reportedly still alive when, after roughly 15 minutes, he was extricated and put into an ambulance. During travel, however, he fell in and out of consciousness before succumbing to his injuries at Schneider Hospital, according to Stevens.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” he said. “We are deeply saddened by this loss of life.”
An earlier island power outage Sunday was caused by a faulty fire-detector at the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s Harley Power Plant.