Unexpected hero saves unconscious driver from burning vehicle moments before it explodes
God was certainly present in the City of Angels when an unexpected hero dramatically pulled a man from his vehicle moments after it erupted in a ball of flames.
Photojournalist Austin Raishbrook rescued a driver from a burning SUV.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's not a Hollywood story and a man's life could have been lost in the horrific accident.
Videographer and television news cameraman Austin Raishbrook was working New Year's Eve and early New Year's morning.
He was on the 110 Freeway between Gage and Florence at roughly 3:30 a.m. after a night covering crime scenes and accidents with his camera, he told KTLA 5, when he noticed a stalled SUV in the fast lane.
Curious, he drove closer to the vehicle and turned on his emergency lights. He grabbed his camera and started filming the SUV.
"It was completely blacked out," Raishbrook told NBC 4. "Unfortunately, some of the drivers didn't see the vehicle. First, it was side-swiped by two vehicles and then it was rear-ended by a vehicle I estimate was going at least 65 miles per hour."
The crash sent the SUV into the center divider, where it caught fire. Raishbrook was recording the crash but went against his cameraman instincts and dropped the camera as soon as he saw the flames.
"I did'nt know if anyone was in the SUV because it was all dark, but I grabbed my fire extinguisher and flashlight and ran to the burning car," he explained.
"I smashed the passenger side window with my fire extinguisher and looked in but the car was naerly fully engulfed and it was hard to see through the smoke. Finally, I saw there was a man slumped over the steering wheel.
"So I ran to the driver's side and tried to smash that window but I couldn't do it," he said. "Finally, somehow I pried open the door and saw the man was strapped in with his seat belt. By then the smoke was so thick, I couldn't breathe too well."
Raishbrook stepped away from the SUV, took a deep breath of clean air and ran back into the smoke.
"I finally got his shoulder strap off and began yanking the man out," Raishbrook described. "It was pretty harrowing and there were a lot of split-second decisions I had to make, but I finally got him out of the SUV."
First responders arrived just as Raishbrook was pulling the driver from the vehicle.
"I didn't realize how close it was until one of the CHP officers told me my hair was singed from the fire," Raishbrook stated.
Paramedics rushed the unidentified man to a local hospital and was in critical condition for a time. Since then, Raishbrook announced the man is awake and responsive.
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