Friday, February 20, 2009

Hero saves driver during tragic traffic accident

Former firefighter and Action News photographer save driver from burning wreck that killed six others

Friday, February 19, 2009
Reported by: Stacy Daniel

A fiery accident near Los Alamos leaves six people dead and a 19-year-old woman in the hospital.

The crash happened around 6:30 p.m. Thursday on Highway 101.

Investigators say the seven people in the vehicle were traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles. All but one were foreign national students who were going to school in the U.S.

A retired firefighter saw the accident happen, he stopped his car and let his instincts take over. Soon, others joined in on the effort to help.

Imagine driving down the highway and you see the car in front of you veer off the road and into a tree. It happened to John Duthie Thursday night.

Duthie said, "It literally unfolded right before my eyes. I had to stop the truck so I didn't get hit."

Duthie, a former firefighter, instantly pulled of the highway to help.

"The roof of the car, it was pretty much ripped off and smashed away," Duthie said. "So she, I got her out the roof, slid down the windshield onto the hood and got her away from the car, back up to the truck I dropped the tailgate down I laid her in the back of the truck. This was all in seconds."

By then, someone else had stopped to help. Action News photographer Juan Espinosa was on his way home from work.

Espinosa said, "I saw this guy helping this girl out, so I helped him and then we got her back to the truck."

Espinosa and Duthie headed back to the burning vehicle to check for additional survivors. By then, the flames made approaching the vehicle impossible.

Espinosa said, "It was really hot, so we couldn't even get close to the car."

So, they focused their attention on the one person they knew they could help, the driver, 19-year-old Jeanne Ostrowski.

Duthie said, "The miracle was one survived. It wasn't a total loss."

Once emergency responders arrived, Espinosa grabbed his camera and captured some of these images.

Both men say they are glad they were there to help, but the graphic images of that night are not likely to fade from their memories anytime soon.

There is some good news. Marian Medical Center has upgraded the driver's condition to fair.

The names of the six people in the car will not be released until all family members have been notified.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Reported by: Sarah Spotten

Five of the six people killed in a fiery crash near Los Alamos Thursday night were foreign national students attending schools in the Bay Area, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The six who were killed range in age from 18 to 30. Four died inside the vehicle, while the other two were ejected. They have not yet been identified pending notification of their next of kin.

The accident happened at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, when the single Toyota SUV crossed into the median and overcorrected, crossed the southbound lanes, rolled over and slammed into a tree before bursting into flames, the CHP says.

The 19-year-old driver, Jeanne Ostrowski of San Francisco, survived the crash with major injuries. Marian Medical Center lists her in fair condition Friday afternoon.

According to the CHP, alcohol does not appear to be a factor, and it is unknown at this time whether the passengers were wearing seatbelts. The investigation into the cause of the crash is still continuing.

Source: KSBY - Link

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