Five people in a Florida apartment escaped injury Tuesday after a man intentionally rammed a car full of propane tanks into a Fort Pierce apartment building in a fiery crash that took his life, police said.
Carl Philbert, 31, was killed in the crash at about 12:48 p.m. ET, which stemmed from a domestic dispute, Fort Pierce police public information officer Ed Cunningham said. No one in the apartment building was hurt, but the vehicle burst into flames, and at least one of the propane tanks ignited.
Four propane tanks were in the car, three in the back seat and one in the front, Cunningham said. The impact did not breach the concrete wall of the building, and the five people inside the apartment — including a 3-year-old — escaped out the back, he said. The child is not Philbert's, and Philbert did not live in the apartment complex but had been staying at a Fort Pierce motel, Cunningham said.
Video showed a fireball erupt from the burning car. Residents told NBC affiliate WPTV of West Palm Beach that they grabbed their children and helped others to flee the building after the fiery crash.
Kathy Toledo, who lives next door, said her husband, Pablo Toledo, helped an elderly woman get out of her apartment.
"I just ran up there and grabbed her. There was a bunch of smoke and fire, but I just ran up there, grabbed her and put her over by the grass. Then I tried to help out with the car, but by that time, no fire extinguisher was getting it out," Toledo told the station.
Cunningham said there had been a history of domestic disputes between Philbert and the person in the apartment he targeted.
Thirteen adults and five children were being assisted by the Red Cross, the Port St. Lucie County Fire District said. Fort Pierce is a city of about 41,000 people on the Atlantic coast, north of Port St. Lucie.