Police are hunting a gang of car thieves who first stopped, but then raced off, after a fatal crash at Edinburgh’s busy Maybury Roundabout.
One man died in the incident, and a five-year-old girl and her family were hospitalised.
The thieves’ stolen grey Audi A3 overtook 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.
Emergency services were unable to do anything to save the driver.
The traumatised child and two others in the BMW were rescued and are still being treated in hospital.
Debris from the crash and the charred remains of the victim’s Peugeot were strewn across Maybury Road, which was closed off for most of yesterday.
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.
“It was real recklessness on the part of the people driving the Audi. It was a really dangerous piece of driving.
“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.”
Officers in high visibility vests were still at the scene for much of yesterday while forensic teams carried out painstaking work looking for clues and combing the nearby area.
Investigators piecing together events revealed that around 12.30am yesterday, the Audi was seen travelling at high speed from Barnton 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 five-year-old girl in the BMW were all taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where they continue to be treated for their injuries.
The 1.6 litre petrol Audi A3 sped away and was later found abandoned in Lochgelly Road, 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.
The Audi A3 had been stolen from a house in Liberton on April 17 and officers are trying to establish where it has been since.
Anyone with any information about the incident is urged to contact police immediately via 101.