Car Crash Heroes

On 14 November 2014, on Highway 101 in central Marin, California, a 60-year-old male driver ran into difficulty. He was slumped over the steering wheel and unconscious, and his car was on fire. His car eventually came to a stop and then caught on fire. San Rafael Police Sergeant Chris Coale said, “The fire was a raging fire; there was smoke and flames. If the person had been in the car for much longer, he would have definitely been killed.” Fortunately for the driver, accountant Gonzalo Outeiro, who works for Guide Dogs, stopped to investigate the car. He said, “When I went down there and smelled smoke, I had to get him out of the car. By the time I opened the car door, I was choking on smoke.” Mr. Outeiro had not been sure whether anyone was in the car. He said, “I was a heartbeat away from going to work. At the last second, I don’t know why, I just said I’ve got to check it out.” Sergeant Coale said, “The driver’s seat, the passenger seat, the headliner, dash was all burned massively.” Mr. Outeiro said about the driver, “He just was completely limp. The car was at an angle and in the mud. I could not get a grip on him at first.” Another passerby helped him rescue the man, and so did Ryan Fischer, an off-duty Corte Madera firefighter. Sergeant Coale said, “They did an incredibly good thing, incredibly dangerous.” Mr. Outeiro said about his own children, aged six and 10, “I hope they’re proud, and hope they realize, if someone’s in trouble, you help. If it was me, I’d want someone to do the same.” The driver is OK, and he did not remember anything. Mr. Fischer said about the rescue, “That’s what we’re here to do.”

For More Information: Debora Villalon, “Acting on a hunch, hero saves man from burning car.” KTVU (San Francisco, California). 14 November 2014

For More Information: Nels Johnson, “Passers-by rescue crash victim as car bursts into flames near Marin Civic Center.” 14 November 2014

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