Palmdale deputies rescue man from burning car crash into wall

- Sheriff's deputies Thursday rescued a 28-year-old man who was stuck in a burning car after it crashed into a wall outside a home in Palmdale, authorities said.

The crash took place at the intersection of 20th Street East and Avenue R-8 about 1:15 a.m., said Lt. Brian Dunn, the watch commander at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Palmdale station.

"We got the 911 call about a car crashing into a house," Dunn said. "It turned out the car crashed through a cinder block wall outside the home."

When deputies got the scene, Dunn said, they found the driver unconscious behind the wheel of a black Mercedes CLK 500 and his male passenger injured but alert. "The car began smoking under the wheels and the passenger was able to get out of the vehicle on his own," Dunn said. "The first deputy on the scene tried to open the door to get the driver out as the car started to burn but he couldn't open the door, which was jammed."

The deputy called for backup and two deputies arrived moments later, Dunn said. "Those three deputies tried but failed to unjam the door," Dunn said.

"Finally, two of the deputies began pulling the driver out through the broken driver-side window, while the third deputy got into the car to free the man's legs. And they did all this while the car was burning."

Dunn said the driver was transported to a hospital unconscious and in serious but stable condition. The passenger suffered minor injuries and was not cooperating with law enforcement. Los Angeles County firefighters put out the car fire.

Dunn said an investigation is underway to determine what caused the crash.

"The driver is still unconscious at the hospital so we haven't been able to run any tests yet to see if he was driving under the influence," Dunn said before dawn. "But that will be a major focus of this investigation once
he regains consciousness."

Palmdale Sheriff's deputies and a good samaritan risked their own lives to save a man from a car that slammed into a wall and burst into flames.

"Between us we were unable to do this, deputy Zack Marshall said, "a neighbor nearby was the big support we needed."

Deputy Zack Marshall,  his colleagues and a fourth man David Perez could barely breathe through the heavy smoke as they worked together to free the man from the wreckage.

"His legs were underneath the dashboard and he was snoring asleep,"  Marshall said.

While neighbors rain to help, most were too scared to intervene.

"I seen the guy in the passenger getting out by himself," Angel Merlin said. At that point the driver was still in the car. " I tried to go out and help them, but then the fire flared and I backed up," Merlin said.

David Perez, who lives just a few streets over, stayed to help.

"I knew I could be hurt, but I just couldn't stand there and watch someone burn," Perez said.

The deputies say Perez made all the difference in saving the driver's life.

"It took all four of us," Marshall said.

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