MANCHESTER, NH — A speeding van took out five cars before it spun out of control and landed on its side on Auburn Street next to Valley Cemetery on Tuesday. The driver of the white Subaru Forester climbed out of the sunroof and took off on foot, cursing loudly, according to one of the five motorists whose vehicle was damaged in the reckless prelude to the final crash.
Matt Burke was waiting at the light at Auburn and Chestnut in his blue Honda Pilot, heading east on his way for a haircut when he saw the Subaru speeding through the intersection. A tan Volvo had just taken a right from Chestnut onto Auburn Street when the van struck the Volvo, smashed into Burke’s front driver’s side, then clipped the driver’s side mirror off of Halima Noor’s maroon Buick LaCrosse before hitting the front end of a bright yellow 2020 Kia Soul.
Somehow the Subaru ended up on its side. Burke thinks it was from the impact of hitting his car. Much of the contents of the van was strewn across Auburn Street — mostly clothing, a few pair of shoes, a blood pressure cuff monitor, a big bottle of Advil, some medical papers and a Minnie Mouse flip-flop.
Burke said it looked like the driver of the Subaru swerved to avoid the Volvo after running the red light heading west on Auburn.
“Apparently he hit someone else, first,” said Burke. “I’m just happy my kids weren’t in the car with me. I saw it coming. All I could do was lean over and brace myself.”
Noor was with her grandmother. She said she also saw the van coming but there was nothing she could do. Her side mirror was shaved off and sitting in the middle of Auburn Street.
Before the Subaru reached Chestnut Street it had hit the rear fender of a Sante Fe, heading north on Pine. That driver parked his car on the side of Auburn and thought he was getting out of his car to talk to the guy who hit him.
“Instead he kept speeding up Auburn and then I see him do this,” said the Sante Fe driver, who declined to give his name.
Police and firefighters arrived quickly, along with family members of Kalin and Antonio, owners of the KIA Soul.
“This is the first new car we’ve ever owned,” said Kalin. “We only made one payment,” she said, looking at the small space between the KIA and the overturned Subaru, shaking her head in disbelief. She was amazed that there wasn’t more damage to her car, or that no one was seriously injured.
She was thankful the KIA was so sturdy.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Kalin said. She explained that Antonio just got off of work, and they were taking a drive around the block for their son, Antonio Jr., who is autistic. “He loves riding in the car, so we took an extra spin around the block for him,” said his dad.
The impact of the crash left their son panicked.
“He started screaming so I was really focused on him,” Kalin said, although she did have a chance to see the runaway driver before he disappeared.
“He looked homeless to me, he was a white guy, scruffy, wearing a dark baseball cap,” she said, looking at the clothing and other items splayed across the road.
Police blocked traffic on Auburn Street between Pine and Willow while they gathered information from the other drivers.