Good Samaritan recounts harrowing rescue of child in fiery Vermont Knolls crash

VERMONT KNOLLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A good Samaritan helped save the lives of several adults and children involved in a fiery crash in South Los Angeles that police suspect was caused by a drunk driver.

Two adults and three kids were inside a burning van near Hoover and West 76th streets Saturday night when bystanders jumped in to help.

"The kid who was the closest - I just get him out first. He was just screaming - I felt his pain, you know? I was burning, too, but at the moment I didn't notice," said man who asked to be identified only as Mr. Castellon.

He was at his restaurant on 76th Street and Hoover in South LA when he heard an explosion. Without thinking, he grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran toward the flames.

One of the kids' seat belts was stuck - and he remembered that he had a knife in his pocket. He grabbed it, cut off the seat belt and pulled the child's head away from the flames and out of the vehicle.

"For me it was like a movie - the flames were fake - I didn't think about my burns - I was just thinking about how the kid was screaming to me - ow ow, it hurts," he recalled.

He says he and another good Samaritan pulled a pregnant woman out of the front seat before the heat became too much.

The car that hit the van also exploded, and he ran toward it. He and another bystander helped pry open the door and pull out the driver by his legs.

The driver of that car is now in custody. Police believe he was under the influence at the time of the crash.

Authorities say a child, a baby, and an adult who were in the van died. The two survivors from the van are now in critical condition.

A memorial has been growing at the crash site all day, with many of the tributes being left by complete strangers moved by the tragedy.
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