On Sunday night, a 3-year-old girl named Zoey Pereira from Valley Stream, New York was pried from the backseat of a burning car in Springfield Gardens, Queens. When police arrived they found a gas canister behind the car in the street, and another in the back seat with Pereira. The back doors had been chained shut, and the windows were up, but the flames inside the car melted the door handle, allowing firefighters to get her out.

Someone called 911 to tell them about a car stopped in the middle of the boulevard. They found the Audi A6 sedan near Baisley Boulevard and 155th Street just before 9 p.m. The badly burned toddler was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries and passed away Sunday night.

Scene of the homicide near Baisley Boulevard and 155th Street

Scene of the homicide near Baisley Boulevard and 155th Street

As firefighters worked to get into the car, a 39-year-old driver, who sources say is the girl’s father, jumped out and ran for the pond at Baisley Park. The driver was on fire and lept into the water to extinguish the flames. He was then apprehended by police and taken to the same hospital as his daughter with second and third-degree burns. Later he was moved to Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan and taken into police custody.

A witness on the horrifying scene, Lisa Silvera, 50, said:

“He was on a stretcher, he’s burned,” said Silvera. “He looked white. So burned. With a mask on his face.”

According to the New York Post, the incident appears to involve a custody dispute.

A medical examiner who studied Pereira’s body determined that she died in a homicide.

An investigation is ongoing.

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