Toronto police have charged a 19-year-old male driver with criminal negligence causing death, after an early-morning collision on Mount Pleasant Road that killed a 24-year-old man.

Oliver Karafa will face three more charges including impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and driving with an elevated blood-alcohol level causing death.

Karafa's male passenger died when the Range Rover he was allegedly driving slammed into a utility pole. The force of the crash was so violent it split the vehicle into three pieces, with debris flying dozens of metres in all directions.

The victim was the only passenger in the vehicle and died almost instantly, according to police. His name was not released and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Karafa walked away with only minor injuries.

'Like an explosion'

The accident happened at about 2:30 a.m. on Mount Pleasant Road near Stibbard Road, which is about halfway between Lawrence and Eglinton avenues.

Police say the Range Rover was going too fast through a turn on Mount Pleasant Road and clipped the curb, which sent it careening towards the lamppost.

"It was like an explosion," said Const. Clint Stibbe, describing the scene of the wreck.

"I can't believe the reality that out of that mess, the guy opened the far-side door and walked out alive, and was sitting on the steps crying."

Neighbours said they heard a man sobbing and yelling, "I'm going to jail."

Police say speed "definitely" played a role in the incident, as did alcohol.

Karafa appeared in court Tuesday afternoon, looking stunned. His older sister welled up with tears and blew him a kiss.

Karafa's lawyer, Lawrence Ben-Eliezer, told reporters his client was coping, considering the circumstances.

Mount Pleasant Road at STibbard Road Toronto ON

"He's 19 years old, he has no criminal record, he's employed, and he's facing one of the most serious charges under the criminal code," Ben-Eliezer said.

Valery Vladimirova, a friend of Karafa's, said he worked as a model for the youth clothing line Abercrombie & Fitch.

According to an online profile, Karafa received his G2 driver's licence in November. A posting reads: "I love my new car."

Karafa remains in custody, but will appear in court for a bail hearing Wednesday morning.