DENVER -- Two people were killed after an early-morning crash Sunday near Monaco Parkway and Yale Avenue that was caused by wrong-way taxi driver, the Denver Police Department said.
Metro Taxi identified the driver as 27-year-old Abdurazaq Bilal, who had been driving for the company since September.
At the scene, with her hands outstretched and her heart uplifted, Olga Lozano prayed over the crash.
“This is so painful. So painful. This is a terrible loss. This can happen to you and me,” Lozano said.
Lozano was headed to work just before 6 a.m. when she heard the impact of the two cars colliding.
“I can hear, I can feel in my heart that something really bad happened. Because the sound was very, very strong,” she said.
Not far from the scene Jay and Conferina Ulibarri were headed to church.
“We noticed mailboxes and other things knocked down. As we kept going through I saw more and more debris,” Jay Ulibarri said.
Police said Bilal lost control of the taxi, knocking down a street sign, hitting a front lawn and losing a bumper before heading the wrong way down Monaco for 1 1/2 miles.
“Two vehicles were southbound on Monaco and were just passing Yale at which time the first vehicle noticed there were headlights coming the wrong direction on the wrong side of the road and veered out of the way. A second vehicle was unable to react and collided with the taxi cab,” Denver police Lt. Robert Rock said.
The vehicles collided at an impact of 70 mph, causing the taxi cab to catch fire.
Police said the driver of both cars died at the scene.
“This is certainly not the kind of tragedy that we want to respond to early on a Sunday morning,” Rock said.
“We did a silent prayer for them,” Conferina Ulibarri said.
For those who narrowly missed the crash, the horrific scene is a tragic reminder that life is short and tomorrow is never promised.
“You never know when and where it`s going to happen,” Jay Ulibarri said.
“Why don't we stop and tell your family I love you and tell your kids I love you and forgive you because this can happen to anybody,” Lozano said.
“No matter who they are, no matter what, when how, let’s just pray for them,” Jay Ulibarri said.
In a statement, Metro Taxi president and owner Robert McBride said little about the accident is known and Metro Taxi staff are cooperating with authorities to determine the cause of the accident.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened at the events and the loss of life," McBride said. "We offer our condolences the drivers' family and friends. This is an indescribable tragedy."