Friends Mourn Metro Worker Killed in Hollywood Crash

The driver of a Chevrolet Camaro crashed into a Metro vanpool vehicle after leaving a traffic stop, police say

Two people, including a Metro worker, were killed early Monday morning in a fiery crash after a driver left a traffic stop in Hollywood and slammed into a van.

The crash was reported just before 2 a.m. near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street, officials said. A Metro vanpool vehicle that was being used for maintenance work was fully engulfed in flames, trapping the driver inside, after being involved in a crash with a Chevolet Camaro.

Authorities were attempting to determine why the driver took off during the stop. A passenger stepped out of the vehicle and was speaking with officers before the driver left the scene.

"It was at that time the driver just decided to take off," said LAPD Sgt. Marlon Marrache.

A patrol unit had pulled over the car for a traffic stop and the officer  was walking back to the patrol vehicle to verify the driver's information when the driver took off and crashed into the Metro van, police said. The crash occurred about a half-mile from the site of the traffic stop.

The driver was traveling at an "extraordinarily unsafe" speed, said Lt. David Ferry, of the Los Angeles Police Department.

"We are investigating this as a possible DUI collision," said Ferry.

The Metro worker, identified by police as 51-year-old Willie Toy, died at the scene. Toy worked as a custodian, cleaning subway stations, during his 15 years with the agency.

Toy was also a deacon at New Mount Zion Baptist Church in South Los Angeles, friends said. He was the father of several adult children.

"Willie Toy had been a great inspiration to everyone he had run in contact with," friend Curtis Hughes said.

Friends gathered outside Toy's home Monday afternoon to mourn the loss of their longtime friend.

"We grew up together. He's not just our neighbor, he's our family," said Beverly Hughes. "We're going to miss him."

"During this time of great loss, my deepest condolences are with his family and friends," Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington said in a statement. "I ask that you join me in keeping Mr. Toy’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time."

The Camaro driver was hospitalized in critical condition and later died, Los Angeles City Fire Department Spokesman Erik Scott said. Details regarding his identity were not available late Monday morning.

A portion of Hollywood Boulevard was shut down at Gower Street for the investigation, officials said.

Metro van pools are similar to carpools, but usually involve larger groups off five to 15 people. The driver was the lone occupant in the van at the time of Monday's crash.

Police did not provide details regarding the initial traffic stop. 

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

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