Brooklyn collision between police crusier, van sparks fire

Lisa Colagrossi reports from Brooklyn
March 26, 2014 1:51:40 PM PDT
An unmarked police cruiser collided with a church van carrying auxiliary officers in Brooklyn late Tuesday, sparking a fire that gutted the van.

The vehicles collided on Belmont Avenue and Essex Street in the East New York section just after 11 p.m.

CLICK HERE to see images from the scene.

The force of the collision pushed the van onto a parked car. The van then caught fire.

"I heard a bang, so I came to the window and saw the car pinned under the white van," one area resident said.

When you see the three vehicles piled on top of one another in a charred jumble, it's hard to believe anyone survived, but they did. The three people in the van -- a driver taking the male and female officers home -- who were able to escape the vehicle before the flames spread.

Two undercover police officers assigned to the 75th Precinct were in the cruiser.

The officers went to Jamaica Hospital, while the occupants of the van were taken to Brookhaven University Hospital. One of them, Matthew White, spoke to Eyewitness News.

"The impact was rough, it felt like a wrecking ball hitting the bus," he said. "Very fast, it was quick. Thank God I'm alive. Thank God my friends are alive. Thank God the officers that were in the car that hit us are alive."

None of the injuries is life threatening. Twisted metal and broken glass littered the spot where the accident happened.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but at least one witness says the unmarked police car came down the street after a speeding car when the van tried to cross Belmont and got hit.