A car going at a high speed crashed and split into two pieces on University Avenue in East Palo Alto on Monday night, according to witnesses and police. The driver died at the scene.
Witnesses said the driver was heading west on University Avenue and had just passed the Bay Road intersection at approximately 8 p.m. when he attempted to swerve around another car and struck the median curb and spun around, striking a tree.
The impact caused the car to split in half. The front portion landed on its side against a tree in the median while the rear portion of the car sheared off into the eastbound lane. Shattered glass and car parts were scattered across the roadway and into the driveway of a nearby strip mall where the PAL Market is located in the 2300 block of University Avenue.
East Palo Alto police Interim Chief Jeff Liu said on Tuesday the incident was captured on surveillance video. There was no evidence of street racing.
The San Mateo County Coroner's Office on Tuesday identified the driver as Jesus Alejandro Belmonte Castro Jr., 29, of East Palo Alto.
Multiple Menlo Park Fire Protection District units and police responded to the scene. East Palo Alto police closed off University Avenue in both directions between Runnymede Street and Bay Road. It reopened after midnight.
One witness who didn't want to give his name said the events leading to the crash happened with astonishing speed. It was only a matter of seconds between the time the driver drove through the intersection, swerved and struck the tree, he said.
Hilda Jones, a Newark resident, said she and her family were going to Three Brothers Tacos on University when the crash occurred.
"It was less than 60 seconds. He had just passed us. He was a young man. When I saw him, I said, 'God bless his soul,'" she said.