A 16-year-old boy died and another teenager was left in a critical condition after their car smashed into a tree and burst into flames in Sutton Coldfield.
Emergency services said it could have been much worse if residents had not helped one victim drag his three friends from the burning wreckage of the Rover 25.
The crash happened at 5.45am on Saturday in Pilkington Avenue. Jim Bray, 60, whose house overlooks the crash scene, said he and fellow residents raced out to help the four young men.
"I heard an almighty bang and rushed to the front window, where I saw a car engulfed in a ball of flames," he said.
"It seemed like nobody could have survived. But that didn't put off the neighbours, who ran straight to the car and dragged the boys out until they were safe and clear.
"They then made sure their airways were clear and that they were comfortable until the emergency services got here.
"If it wasn't for them, all four of them might have died."
The victims have not yet been identified but all four are believed to be from Kingstanding and are aged 16, 19 and two are 20.
The youngest died and one of the 20-year-olds was critically ill. The other two victims suffered minor injuries, including cracked ribs, cuts and bruises.
They were all taken to Good Hope Hospital.
Messages left with flowers at the scene by family and friends referred to the 16 year-old as Jo, although West Midlands Police refused to reveal any identities.
Among the many poignant messages were "Jo, Always with us", "Never Forgotten, RIP", and "Always thinking of you Jo".
West Midlands Ambulance service support officer Tim Hughes, said: "The car was on a left-hand bend when it left the road on the offside, collided with a tree and burst into flames."