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Three men pull DUI suspect from burning wreckage in Castaic

Posted: October 28, 2012 7:12 p.m.
Updated: October 28, 2012 7:12 p.m.

A firefighter examines the burned wreckage of a vehicle at the Hasley Canyon exit off the northbound Interstate 5 in Castaic on Sunday. (Rick McClure/For The Signal)

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Old habits proved hard to break Sunday for a retired LAPD officer who followed a hit-and-run driver suspected of drunk driving from Newhall and ended up saving his life with the help of two other motorists in Castaic.

About 3:30 p.m. Sunday, a motorist traveling north on Interstate 5 took the Hasley Canyon Road exit and failed to negotiate the roundabout turn, hitting the center, flipping his car, which quickly burst into flames.

Three men witnessing the crash, including the former cop who followed the motorist from a hit-and-run crash in Newhall, ran to the burning car and pulled the trapped motorist to safety.

A California Highway Patrol officer at the crash said the three good Samaritans, saved the man’s life.

“He’s a DUI suspect,” said investigating CHP Sgt. Pack, referring to the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The motorist was arrested, charged with DUI and taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Pack said.

The man’s injuries do not include burns, he said, largely because he was pulled to safety.

Retired police officer John Springer, a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was asked if he was apprehensive about approaching a burning car.

“Yes and no,” he said. “Sometimes your training just kicks in.”

Springer said Sunday’s incident began in Newhall, on Lyons Avenue near Apple Street, when the motorist hit his car.

“I went to talk to him and his speech was slurred and his eyes watery, but I wanted to exchange (driver) information,” he said. “Instead, he took off and crashed into a truck.

“I followed him onto the freeway and he got off at Hasley,” he said.

“He shot up in the air and did a 90-degree turn when he crashed.”

The suspect motorist’s car came to rest against a guardrail and burst into flames.

While Springer used his cellphone to dial 9-1-1, two other men ran to the burning car — Floyd Buchan, a nurse, and Andres Gamero, both of Castaic.

Springer helped the two other rescuers at the burning car.

Buchan grabbed a blanket and wrapped the injured motorist in it, Springer said.



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