By Steven Graves

CHICAGO (CBS) — Two men are dead after a fiery crash on Lake Shore drive early Sunday.

A man rushed to help the men after the crash near the Oak Street curve. CBS 2’s Steven Graves spoke with that man late Sunday.

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Steve Compton said he has never seen injuries like the man suffered, or anything like the inferno that erupted outside his workplace.

Video shows the explosion that happened just after 3 a.m. In the dark of early morning, Compton saw the beam of light – a fireball that immediately caught his attention.

(Credit: Steve Compton)

“It was a smash… and I look out and it’s fire – a car scraping across the outside wall,” Compton said. “As soon as it was coming up on the wall, there were sparks, there was flames and it was exploding while in full motion.”

Police said the car struck a concrete barrier, flipped over on its side, and burst into flames.

Compton sprang into action while working the night shift at a nearby building.

“I was calling 911 with my left hand and had a fire extinguisher in the other,” he said.

Compton is seen on security footage running to help the people in the car.

The flames were too much for Compton to handle, but he did notice the men inside had already escaped.

“There’s a guy who climbed out of the car on fire and went running, which I’ve never seen anything like that – a human being on fire,” Compton said.

He took more videos that captured people screaming and explosions, as many waited for first responders to arrive.

Compton said it took firefighters a while to put out the flames.

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Both victims suffered burns to their body – injuries that Compton remembers vividly.

“Kind of splotchy burn marks all over them,” he said.

Compton said the S-curve section of Lake Shore Drive has proved to be problematic before. Calls to straighten out or redesign the curve go back several years.

Compton said he has had to help people with first aid for fires at the site before, though those fires were not at the level of this most recent one.

“We have a lot of accidents,” he said. “I’ve put out a fire out there before, but I’ve never seen anything this crazy or this intense.”

The men who had been in the vehicle were rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, police said.

Because of the severity of the burns, the two occupants were transferred Northwestern to Stroger Hospital of Cook County, where they were both pronounced dead.

While on the scene, officers found a loaded 9mm pistol with an extended magazine on the ground next to the burned car.

Police initially thought a ruptured gas line was involved with fueling the flames, but they have since said that turned out not to be the case.

Police could not say whether speed or alcohol played a role in the crash.

 

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