Update: One killed, one critically injured, in car that crashed and caught fire near Downtown

One woman was killed and a man was taken to the hospital in critical condition after a car he was driving crashed into a tree and caught fire on Saturday near Downtown.

Around 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, a 51-year-old Los Angeles man was at the wheel of a 1994 Buick LeSabre that crashed and sped away, according to Long Beach police. He sped a few blocks away to 10th Street and Long Beach Boulevard where he struck a parked 2008 Honda Accord, a street sign, a commercial gas line and a tree before the car caught fire.

A 40-year-old Lakewood woman who was in the car was pronounced dead at the scene and the driver was transported to the hospital in critical condition, say police.

Authorities are withholding the identity of the driver and passenger pending notification from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Richard Mejia, a spokesman with LBPD, said officers at the scene believe speeding over the designated limit in the residential area may have been a cause for the accident.

Authorities sealed off 10th Street between Long Beach Boulevard and Locust Avenue near a supermarket parking lot where the crash took place.

Mejia added that a gas leak was identified in the area of the crash, which prompted authorities to evacuate an apartment building near the scene of the crash.

It is believed the car crashing into the tree may have ruptured a gas pipe, however Mejia said the cause is still under investigation.

At the scene, witnesses stood around the supermarket parking lot looking on at the wreckage, which was draped in a red blanket.

Witnesses said the car was driving at high speeds. Noah Vanwyk, a local resident, said he believed the car was going over 60 mph. He also said the area smelled like gas but he was not sure if it was because of a gas leak or because of the car.

Traffic collision detectives were on the scene investigating the cause of the crash, Mejia said.

This story has been updated to include additional information provided by City New Service.

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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