Witnesses recall trying to save family in fiery Vermont Knolls crash

VERMONT KNOLLS. LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Witness video showed intense flames as two cars collided in Vermont Knolls, caught fire and then citizens banded together to try to help the victims.

"My eyes were burning. My face was burning," Castellan said. "I pried open the door and some other guy actually helped me pull them by their legs."

The crash happened Saturday afternoon near Hoover and West 76th streets, and while witnesses helped the victims they also tried to nab the suspected drunk driver who they said rammed into the family van.

One man, who goes by his last name Castellan, described the inferno inside the mini-van and how a homeless man helped pull out a mother and 9-year-old boy. All of this happened while the inside of the vehicle was melting.

"I didn't think about my burns. I was thinking about how the kid was screaming to me, 'Ow. Ow. It hurts.' Then I seen the dad just unconscious. The interior of the car was leaking on him, you know, leaking down," he said.

He grabbed a knife and was able to cut the mother out of her seatbelt.

The mother who was pulled out of the van is in critical condition and identified as 33-year-old Elizabeth Flores. Her son Julian Reynoso, 9, is being treated for burns at LAC+USC Medical Center.

Three members of the family did not survive. Candles and flowers lined the site of the deadly crash Monday. The memorial honored the father, 34-year-old Juan Reynoso, 7-year-old Emma and 5-month-old Sebastian.

Neighbors said they feel for the grieving family whose lives changed that day.

As the memorial continues to grow for the family, Castellan said he wished he could have done more.

"I don't want to be the one to say I was a hero. I was just being a person with a caring heart for the victims in this situation," he said.

The driver that authorities believe caused the crash was arrested and booked on suspicion of DUI.
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