Car thieves pulled over but failed to help as a man died in a fireball they caused before speeding off.
Police have launched a major manhunt after a family of three, including a five-year-old girl, were also hospitalised after the smash on a major road in Edinburgh yesterday.
Debris from the crash and the charred remains of the victim’s Peugeot were strewn across the city’s Maybury Road.
DCI Paul Grainger said: “It’s a traumatic time for both families. One person has died in tragic circumstances and a five year-old child and her family have suffered injuries.”
The stolen grey Audi A3 was overtaking a row of four or five cars on the wrong side of the road causing the family’s BMW to swerve and plough into the dead man’s Peugeot 206.
“It was real recklessness on the part of the people driving the Audi. It was a really dangerous piece of driving,” said DCI Grainger at the scene.
“These people were going about their business in a perfectly normal way. It’s purely the actions of the driver of the Audi that have caused this.
“We’d ask them to come and speak to police and explain what happened.
“The driver of the Audi has stopped briefly and is fully aware of what happened and then driven off with no attempt to help or get assistance from police.
“They have been aware of the seriousness of the accident their reckless driving has caused.” At around 12.30am yesterday, the Audi was seen travelling at speed from the Barnton area towards the Maybury Roundabout when the car drove along the chevron area to overtake a row of traffic.
As the Audi approached the roundabout, it headed into the opposing carriageway, causing the BMW X5 to swerve and collide with the Peugeot 206 travelling in the opposite direction.
The Peugeot burst into flames which firefighters battled to put out but the driver tragically died.
A 25-year-old man, 22-year-old woman and 5-year-old girl in the BMW were all taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where they continue to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.
The 1.6 litre petrol Audi A3 sped andi was later found abandoned in Cowdenbeath, near to the local ambulance depot, at around 3.50am.
Police are also looking to trace the driver of a silver hatchback believed to have been travelling “in convoy” with the Audi on Queensferry Road moments before the crash.
DCI Grainger said there was “nothing to suggest they were racing each other.”
The Audi A3 was stolen from a house in Liberton on April 17 and officers are trying to establish where it has been since.
Police are understood to have already spoke to drivers of the other vehicles over taken by the Audi.
“At this time we believe the stolen Audi A3 has been driven in a dangerous and reckless manner, which has caused this collision to take place in which a person has died,” said DCI Grainger. “Those within this vehicle have then failed to stop and it appears they have thereafter travelled into Fife. We have dedicated significant resources to this inquiry and while we have now recovered the Audi, the driver and anyone else within the car are yet to be traced.”
Anyone with information can contact police station on 101.