News photographer helps save woman trapped in burning car in Hemet

EMBED </>More Videos

A freelance news photographer helped save a woman's life when she was trapped in a car that caught fire after a crash in Hemet. (KABC)

A freelance news photographer helped save a woman's life when she was trapped in a car that caught fire after a crash in Hemet.

William Hayes is used to dramatic situations, but he couldn't stand by after what he witnessed early Sunday morning on Highway 74.

His dashboard camera captured the situation. In the video, Hayes is seen running toward a car wreck with the woman trapped inside.

"The lady in another vehicle that's off the road was yelling, saying the car was catching fire," he said.

He said he got on his phone to call 911. After speaking with dispatch, he hung up, grabbed a crowbar from his truck and smashed out the windows of the car to unlock the doors. At that point, the flames under the hood had grown.

"We were coming in to the point where if it gets any worse we were going to have to pull her out," Hayes said. "I yelled twice, 'fire extinguisher. I need a fire extinguisher.'"

In the video, Hayes directs a bystander to get a fire extinguisher from a big rig stuck in the traffic backup. But seconds later, two Hemet police officers arrive and Hayes uses his flashlight to direct their attention to his location.

Officers were able to get the flames under control. Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to get the woman out, unharmed, and attend to four other occupants in the other car.

Hayes said he captured the rest of the situation not to draw attention to his actions, but to the first responder's actions.

"My hopes was to highlight the use of the fire extinguishers by the police officers," he said.

Now it's Hayes who is being hailed a hero. But he said he's not a hero, just someone who was capable of providing help at the time.

The woman he helped rescue suffered a broken pelvis and leg. She is also facing criminal charges for driving under the influence.

For Hayes, he is glad he was able to help under the circumstances and said he'll be better prepared if it happens again. He said he now has a fire extinguisher in his truck.

Related Topics:
car crashcar firedashcam videofire rescueHemetRiverside County
(Copyright ©2017 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments