HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) -- Hot Springs police are trying to determine whether excessive speed may have played a role in a crash that killed two people and sent a state trooper to the hospital.
It happened around 9:20 p.m. Monday night on Airport Rd. at the base of the bridge over Lake Hamilton.
Witnesses at a nearby pool hall in the Chesswood Plaza came running out to find an Arkansas State Police patrol unit crashed under a sign.
Another car across the five-lane road smashed as well.
“The state trooper's car ended up right underneath the sign on fire,” said Tim Ferroux, who worked to clean up the mess left behind at the plaza and condominium complex. “You can see through the skid marks. It looks like the impact was on that corner.”
“It looked like a bomb went off,” said Gary Elsea, owner of Boondocks Pool Hall, which was open at the time of the crash. “The trooper's car was up here. It was on fire. They had dragged the trooper out to the street and were helping him and putting the fire out in his car.”
Police identified him as First Class Trooper Brian Burke.
The two victims in a silver Chevy were Desean Jenkins and Cassandra Braun, both in their 20s and both from Hot Springs.
Burke was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery overnight and by Tuesday morning was listed in fair condition.
As Ferroux cleaned up and as patrons in the strip mall returned, some said they would not be surprised if speed played a role in the crash.
“Traffic's always fast going up and down this road, but that's what happens,” said Elsea.
Hot Springs police remain in charge of the investigation with a release saying detectives and accident reconstruction investigators going through the process of collecting additional evidence. They expect that to include the trooper’s event data recorder, on board camera recordings, and video from area businesses.
Arkansas State Police took to social media to ask for payers both for the two victims as well as for the recovery of Burke.