Off-duty firefighters save two from burning car
Two off-duty firefighters and a retired fire captain are credited with saving the life of a 17-year-old and his elderly passenger in a fiery crash west of Exeter.
Tulare County Fire Department personnel responded to the two-car crash at 8:45 a.m. Sunday, in front of 811 S. Anderson Road. The fire department said that before the first engine’s arrival, off-duty firefighters Clay Lyons and Manuel Garcia and retired CalFire Capt. Sid Regehr, rendered aid to those involved.
Lyons and Garcia were at the scene moments after the crash occurred. A pickup truck had broadsided an SUV, making it very difficult to open the driver side of the SUV, the fire department reports. The vehicles crashed due to heavy fog in the area.
Lyons called 911 while Garcia immediately started to check on the victims. Both occupants in the pickup truck were out of the car and sustained only minor injuries. The SUV had two occupants, both were unconscious, and a fire had started to build in the engine compartment and was spreading into the passenger area.
While Lyons donned his fire safety clothing he gave Garcia his high-lift jack to help him access the passenger. By the time Garcia returned, the passenger started gaining consciousness and Garcia helped him out through the passenger-side window.
Regehr arrived and handed Lyons a fire extinguisher. Clay used the extinguisher to put the fire out that was closing in on the driver’s head and chest. A small fire was still burning around the 17-year-old driver’s legs.
The teen started gaining consciousness and began moving away from the fire and over the console of the car. With the driver’s help, both Lyons and Garcia pulled him out of the vehicle. At this point, the first fire engine and ground ambulance arrived at scene.
The driver of the SUV suffered third-degree burns to 40 to 50 percent of his body. Due to dense fog in the area, the ground ambulance met the air ambulance in Lemon Cove, 10 to 15 minutes away, where skies were clearer.