Witness to deadly chase crash: Suspect’s car ‘exploded’

police chase crash, 52nd street, broadmoor avenue, kentwood
The scene after a teen driver fled police and then crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of 52nd Street and Broadmoor Avenue in Kentwood. (March 11, 2017)


KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Two days later, a West Michigan man was still in disbelief after witnessing a police chase end in a fiery crash that left two people dead.

Michigan State Police say a driver — identified by family as 16-year-old Alex Torrez — fled a traffic stop around 10:15 p.m. Saturday and troopers gave chase. The pursuit ended in a crash in Kentwood.

Alex Torrez
An undated photo of Alex Torrez courtesy Facebook.

Marcus Pinkley was heading east on 52nd Street on his way to work. He had just slowed to a stop at a red light at Broadmoor Avenue when he caught sight of headlights in his rearview mirror.

“I’m saying, ‘Man, this dude is coming real fast. He’s coming faster than usual.’ And when he came past my van, it shook it,” Pinkley said Monday, speaking to 24 Hour News 8 at the scene of the crash.

The driver never stopped, flying by Pinkley in the right lane. Then there was a violent impact with a car going through the intersection.

“He caught them — pow! As he hit here — baboom! It exploded. And when he went up in the air, he was already on fire. The car was on fire when he come up and rolled in there,” Pinkley described, gesturing to the spot where the suspect’s car ended up. “That was it.”

Shaken, Pinkley put his van in park and tried to grab his phone to call 911. But within moments, before he could dial, police cruisers had swarmed the scene.

“It was like 30 seconds, they were there. They had everything blocked off,” Pinkley said.

That’s when he realized that a police chase had led up to what he witnessed.

After seeing that crews had a handle on the scene, Pinkley made his way to work. But the tragedy stuck with him, replaying in his head. He said he was shocked to hear someone survived the wreckage.

The suspect driver, Alex Torrez, was hurt and remained hospitalized in stable condition on Monday. He does not have a driver’s license, records show.

Tara Oskam, David Torrez
Undated courtesy photos of Tara Oskam (left) and David Torrez.

Two other lives were lost: 15-year-old David Torrez, the passenger in the suspect vehicle, and 21-year-old Tara Oskam, who was driving the other vehicle.

“I’m just feeling for the family right now. ‘Cause it’s a loss,” Pinkley said.