A ball of fire on one of California’s busiest freeways turned a quiet Christmas into an unforgettable one.
Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad officer Don Thompson was on his way to work Wednesday when at around 2 p.m. he saw a car crash on Los Angeles’ 405 freeway.
“I saw this car just veer into the retaining wall,” Thompson said. “It went across all lanes, and it was on fire at that time.”
Thompson ran to the car, now engulfed in flames, and found the driver of the car trapped inside and unconscious.
“I said to myself, ‘I have to get him out of here,’” Thompson said. “All the while there was of all this fire. It was just really intense.”
As other drivers captured the rescue on camera, Thompson, a 26-year veteran of the LAPD, dove into the car to try to unbuckle the driver and pull him from his seat.
After one failed attempt, Thompson went back into the burning car and pulled the 72-year-old driver from the car. Disoriented by the heat, Thompson was then helped by other Good Samaritans who had stopped their cars to help.
“I mean, this guy, he was incredible,” witness Dru Gash said of Thompson. “He’s like a superhero. He jumped in there. He opened the car door, reached in there and grabbed this guy out.”
The driver, who was not identified, suffered only minor injuries. He was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.