CHP officers rescue man from burning car

Posted at 11:37 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-22 02:39:18-05

Two CHP Officers are credited with saving a young man's life.

CHP Officers Gabe Morado and Russ Robertson were on patrol last Thursday around 3:30 A.M. on State Route 78 just west of Woodland Parkway when they saw the driver of a
Volkswagen Jettta hit the center barrier wall and plunge down an embankment.

"These officers were in the right place at the right time, cause here this individual crashes off freeway who knows if anyone heard it," said Officer Jim Bettencourt.

The driver, identified as 21-year-old Efren Mendoza of Vista, was unconscious and trapped. His car had hit a tree and was upside down.

The veteran officers quickly realized there was no time to wait for paramedics.

"The victim in this collision is choking. It's like the seat belt is almost choking him and you have a fire starting to engulf this vehicle," said Officer Bettencourt.

The officers worked as a team. One cut Mendoza from the seat belt while the other grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the fire.

"It was certainly a life saving effort," said Officer Bettencourt.

Mendoza is in the hospital with serious injuries, including fractures to both legs. He's also facing DUI charges.