|TRABUCO CANYON, CA - An off-duty park ranger says he was only following his training when he helped put out an engine fire after a two-vehicle collision on Live Oak Canyon Road Monday. |
Christopher Lorenzi, officials say, may have prevented a large brushfire and saved two lives with his quick action when he arrived at the scene of the crash that left three people injured April 20.
Orange County Fire Authority Captain Marc Stone, said the car fire had the potential to do serious property damage because of Monday's high temperatures and slight wind, if Lorenzi had not intervened.
"We might even put him in for a special commendation," Stone said.
Lorenzi says, however, he was just doing what he was taught.
"You just go out and do what you can," Lorenzi, 25, said in an interview Tuesday."It's something I would do 24/7, any day of the week."
On Monday witnesses told the California Highway Patrol that a Long Beach Yellow Cab Co-op minivan driving south clipped the left front end of a northbound cargo-bearing truck bearing the name Victory Sheet Metal Inc.
The minivan then smashed into the left side of the truck again, pushing the truck, rear first, into a ditch, witnesses said.
The taxi's engine caught fire, with the occupants trapped inside.
Lorenzi was driving to his Corona home after a training session at O'Neill Regional Park, when traffic came to a stop at 4:15 p.m.
Both lanes of the road were blocked by the debris.
"I could see the yellow minivan, flames coming out of the engine," Lorenzi said.
After talking to another park ranger, who headed back to O'Neill Park to get help, Lorenzi grabbed a small fire extinguisher he had in his white 2009 Toyota Tacoma and ran the 75 yards to the burning minivan.
Lorenzi and another man sprayed down the flames, Lorenzi said, but the man left before he could get his name.
With the flames extinguished Lorenzi looked inside the car and saw the driver, 40-year-old Bunny Deuk, struggling to move.
Because the vehicle was a taxi, Lorenzi said, he figured there might have been a passenger inside. He headed back to his vehicle.
Lorenzi grabbed his Mag-Lite and leather gloves and hurried back to the car. He broke the passenger side rear window and saw 18-year-old Dureti Bishop, unconscious and moaning in the middle row of seats.
"She didn't look too good." Lorenzi said. "I checked her pulse, and she had a pretty strong pulse. I could feel it through my leather gloves."
He did not move either of them, as training dictated.
Bishop and Deuk were both seriously injured during in the crash and remain at Mission Hospital.
The California Highway Patrol identified the truck driver as Jose Pineda, 41, of Riverside. He received minor injuries and was taken to Saddleback Memorial Medical Center Laguna Hills.
Lorenzi plans to visit the Mission Hospital later this week to check in on the two.
When he heard that he might get recognized by the OCFA for his actions, Lorenzi said he didn't do it for the commendation.
"The biggest 'Thank you,' to me was to see them be taken away alive," Lorenzi said.