Officer's body camera shows heroic rescue

ESCONDIDO, Calif. - A 21-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of felony drunken driving in connection with a crash in Escondido that left him unconscious in his burning car until a police officer pulled him to safety.

Uriel Basurto Sierra of Sylmar was booked into county jail in Vista early Tuesday morning, Escondido police Lt. Neal Griffin said.

About 1:30 a.m. Sunday, police say Sylmar ran a red light at Broadway and West Valley Parkway, sending his northbound Nissan Altima crashing into the driver's side of a Lincoln Navigator traveling through the intersection.

Both vehicles came to rest at the southeast corner of the road crossing, near Escondido City Hall, and the Nissan caught fire.

Moments after arriving in the area, a patrol officer found Sierra slumped unresponsive in his burning sedan and tried to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher. When the attempt failed, the officer got into the car and dragged Sierra out.

Body camera video released Tuesday shows the rescue. Officer Joseph Putulowski told 10News how he did it and showed the body camera on his vest that recorded it all. He remained calm while nervous bystanders watched on as flames grew from under the hood.

"When I tried to communicate and ask him questions, I realized that he was unresponsive... he was bleeding profusely from the head," Putulowski said.

Emergency crews had to cut apart the Lincoln to free its driver. A passenger in the SUV was able to get out without help.

All three of people involved in the accident were taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Sierra was being held in county jail in Vista on $100,000 bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

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