UPS driver Lawrence Sanchez used a fire extinguisher from his truck to help a woman trapped in a burning pickup. Sanchez recounts the rescue and the crash and explosion when a Lexus rear-ended the pickup on the 60 Freeway. Tony Shin reports from Jurupa Valley for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m on Sept. 6, 2013
A driver used a fire extinguisher from his UPS delivery truck to put out flames on a woman involved in a fiery wreck Friday on the 60 Freeway in the Mira Loma area east of Los Angeles.
Three people were injured when the driver of a Lexus CT200 slammed into the back of the stalled pickup on the eastbound side of the Riverside County freeway, triggering an explosion and fire that trapped a passenger in the pickup.
UPS driver Lawrence Sanchez slowed his truck as he approached the stalled pickup. Moments later, the black Lexus collided with the pickup.
"As soon as I started to slow down, the little Lexus rear-ended the truck and it caught on fire," Sanchez said.
The Lexus careened off the pickup and into a wall on the side of the freeway. Sanchez pulled to the side of the road and stopped behind the Lexus, shielding it and the injured driver from oncoming traffic with his delivery truck.
He then noticed a woman trapped inside the burning pickup.
"As the flames got bigger, I got my fire extinguisher from my truck," Sanchez said. "Some other good Samaritans had tried to pull the door, but they could not get it open. There's only so much you can do when it's that hot."
Sanchez started spraying the pickup, beating back the flames and allowing the woman to escape.
"When she got out, her whole head was on fire, so I sprayed the fire extinguisher at her face to put out the flames," Sanchez said. "My fire extinguisher wasn't very big, so I did the best I could.
"It was horrific. The most horrific thing I've seen in 30 years of driving (for UPS)."
The female passenger in the pickup was hospitalized with what authorities described as "major" injuries. The Lexus driver and pickup driver suffered moderate injuries, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
A medical emergency crew in a helicopter landed on the freeway to transport at least one victim.
When told he was a hero, Sanchez replied, "These CHP guys do it every day -- they're the heroes."
The eastbound freeway was closed near Country Village Road and Pedley Road. The freeway reopened at about 11:45 a.m.
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