2 men rescue woman from burning car in Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- One accident can really mess up a morning commute and that's why the state hires tow trucks to patrol the freeways and help get those cars safely off the road.

Last week, two of those drivers rolled up on a more serious situation and they're now being called heroes.

If you're in a crash with no injuries, you're supposed to move to the shoulder and the freeway service patrol is here to help.

"There are tow truck operators who patrol on the freeway during commute hours," CHP Ofc. Sean Wilkenfled said.

One morning before dawn, the highway patrol says a woman lost control of her car in Oakland.

"Right here you can see the tire tracks where she left the roadway," Wilkenfeld said.

The car knocked over a sign, hit a concrete wall, and barreled into a tree where it caught fire.

Poe sprang out of the driver's seat.

"Adrenaline pumping, went into rescue mode. Grabbed my fire extinguisher," Poe said.

He saw the driver, barely conscious.

"Maybe she hit her head and she was out of it, and all I can remember her saying was you know, help me help me out," Poe said. "I told her who I was and told her I was here to help. and I reached in and I tried to release the seat belt but it was jammed," he said.

The rescue wound up needing a team effort. A waste management crew pulled over to help, and Darryl's coworker in another tow truck.

As the waste management crew sprayed down the fire, Moises Reyes joined the effort to free the driver.

"He called me on the radio saying, Moises I need your help," Reyes said. "The car was completely squished. We don't be able to open the doors because they're completely jammed."

Time was running out.

"In a panic, to get her out right away because the fire was coming," Reyes said.

Finally, someone found a knife. They cut the seat belt and pulled the driver out through the window.

"Fifteen seconds, and the car blows. The whole tree went up," Reyes said.

The fire shot up to the highest branches and quickly consumed the car. The driver was hospitalized with broken bones and a head injury.

"She is expected to survive, which is great. but it could've been far worse if they weren't here so quickly," said Wilkenfeld.

To Reyes, it was just a good day at work. He's won awards for saving lives before and for Poe too -- it's part of the job description.

"Trying to help somebody. You know, that's what we're out here for," Poe said.
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