Woman, child rescued in gas station crash, fire

Posted at 4:47 PM, Mar 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-30 00:36:44-04

SANTEE, Calif. - Several people rushed into action Tuesday when a minivan crashed into a gas pump at a Santee gas station, working together to pull the female driver and her young daughter to safety just before the vehicle was gutted by fire.

The accident occurred about 1 p.m., after the motorist passed out behind the wheel due to an apparent pre-existing medical condition as she was driving by or pulling into the Chevron station in the 8800 block of North Magnolia Avenue in Santee, according to Santee Fire Department officials.

The vehicle crashed to a stop into a fuel pump, rupturing a supply line, Division Chief Brad Peterson said. As gasoline began spilling onto the ground, employees shut off the flow of fuel to the damaged equipment, significantly reducing the potential combustion hazard, Peterson said.

Several bystanders, meanwhile, hurried over to the damaged minivan and used a crowbar or similar tool to break one of its windows so they could free the unresponsive driver and the elementary school-aged girl, Peterson said. Shortly after they did so, the vehicle became engulfed in flames.

Firefighters arrived moments later and extinguished the blaze, which also damaged the shelter structure under which the vehicle had crashed.

Medics took the motorist to a hospital for evaluation and treatment of whatever ailment had led her to black out while driving. The girl was unharmed.

Hazardous-materials personnel were called in to evaluate and mitigate any environmental problems that may have resulted from the spilled gasoline. Any such issues were expected to be minimal, since emergency crews were able to contain most of the errant fuel, Peterson said.