High Speed Plays Role in Crash Killing Teenage Girls, Man Along Northeast Philadelphia Road: Police

The driver in a high-speed Northeast Philadelphia car crash that killed two teenage girls and a young man late Wednesday night is believed to have been driving at least three times the speed limit, police said at a news conference Thursday.

Police Accident Investigation Division Capt. John Wilczynski said police would like to speak with the occupants of another car captured on video driving "really close" to the 2007 Acura when the Acura's driver, Christopher Bloomfield, lost control at a curve, went airborne and plowed into a tree around 11:40 p.m. on Sandmeyer Lane near Red Lion Road in the Bustleton section.

The Acura split in half.

"The people in the other vehicle, we'd like to talk to them, because they could provide a lot of information on what happened prior to the crash," Wilczynski said. "They have a responsibility to give information on what they saw."

Wilczynski said investigators were unsure on Thursday whether the two cars had been racing, or if they both happened to be speeding near each other. Based on a preliminary investigation, Wilczynski estimated that the Acura that crashed had been traveling at least 75 mph. He said the other vehicle, which did not stop, appeared on video to be traveling about the same speed.

Speed limits on roads where they are not posted are generally 25 mph, Wilczynski said, adding that he does not believe the limit on the stretch where the crash happened is any higher than 35 mph.

"We would just like them to come forward and tell us what they know about the crash," Wilczynski said of the other car's occupants. He said police aren't sure of the make and model of that car.

The 17-year-old girls from Philadelphia, police said, were ejected from the mangled Acura and both died at the scene. Investigators later identified the girls as 17-year-old George Washington High School rising senior Sabrina Rhoads and 17-year-old Yvette Gonzalez. A 20-year-old Medford, New Jersey man, Felip Hernandez, also died at the scene, and Bagdon Arutyunov, 17, was ejected from the vehicle and suffered severe head trauma. He remained in critical condition at Jefferson University Hospital Thursday afternoon.

The 20-year-old driver of the Acura walked away from the crash, Wilczynski said, and somehow managed to leave the scene and later show up at Albert Einstein Medical Center. He said investigators are trying to determine how the driver got from the scene to the hospital -- it's possible he got a ride from another driver who witnessed the wreck. He was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, said police.

Police said it's too early in the investigation to say whether or not they expect to file charges against anyone involved, but Wilczynski said that recklessness undoubtedly contributed to the crash.

"It's just a really unfortunate incident. Speed did it, recklessness did it," the AID commander said. "Unfortunately, now there's people dead."

He said police do not believe alcohol was a factor, but that they don't believe the victims were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Anyone with information in the fatal crash should call the Accident Investigation Division at 215-685-3180.

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