SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Witnesses describe Larry Broderick of Fountaingrove as a hero Monday for pulling victims from burning cars and saving lives after a dump truck carrying debris from the October wildfires appears to have lost its brakes, sped through a busy intersection, and smashed into at least nine vehicles in Santa Rosa.
The accident, which sent six people to the hospital, caused a massive fire, thick smoke and street closures.
This happened just off of Highway 101 at Mendocino Avenue and Fountaingrove Parkway in the middle of the devastated Fountaingrove community. The intersection is adjacent to a mobile home park that burned called Journey's End. It's also next to the Fountain Grove Inn and Hilton Hotel that burned during the October fires.
Michelle Trammel, who witnessed the aftermath, says, "Without him, I don't know what would have happened to those people."
"I'm not a hero. I don't like that word. When someone is going to die burning, you do what you need to do," said Broderick, who was driving to work at 9:15 a.m.
Instead, "It looked like a Terminator movie," said Broderick, who nearly became a victim himself.
His Honda Pilot had just cleared the intersection when witnesses say the out-of-control truck tried to swerve out of danger but to no avail. The vehicle hit a Ford pickup truck, which hit a Ford Explorer, and then seven more cars in a chain reaction.The accident happened half a second behind Broderick.
"The initial crash was a boom," he said. "Then boom, boom, boom, sparks, and everything caught. You could see where it was going to go with the spilled fuel."
Six people went to the hospital, two with major injuries.
"I'm not a doctor, but I would guess multiple broken bones and contusions," said Broderick. "The woman in the truck hit first? She was really in bad shape. They needed the jaws of life to pry her out."
So how did he manage to stay so cool?
"What you do in those first few seconds is everything," Broderick noted. "I watch emergency shows, police shows, documentaries. Do triage, delegate. The most important thing is asking for help from people. And, they came. You can't have people just sitting there. You need to get them going."
So says the hero who could just as easily have been a victim had his car passed through the intersection a few seconds later.
And, we might add, a fire victim. Broderick lost his home in Hidden Valley Estates on October 9.
Multiple roads are closed in this area including Mendocino Avenue northbound at Bicentennial Way. CHP is asking you to please stay out of the area.
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