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Strangers battle flames to rescue men from burning car


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    DAVIS, CA (KOVR) — A fiery car crash near Davis sent strangers running towards the flames to pull out two men trapped inside Saturday.

Woodland CHP says the driver of the BMW lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a utility pole on Pole Line Road.

Peter Dileanis was driving when he saw black smoke billowing into the sky and the car engulfed in flames. He immediately pulled over his car and jumped out to try to help.

“At one point I was looking and thinking, they are going to burn alive,” he said. “I have no doubt they wouldn’t have survived. It was a matter of seconds after they were pulled out of the car where it didn’t explode but it got more and more intense.”

By the time Dileanis arrived, he says around four people were running towards the flames to help pull two men out of the car.

“They were just yelling to each other ‘we got to get them out, we got to get them out,’” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times they tried it might have been three or four attempts to get them out before they finally did it.”

Those Good Samaritans broke the windows with a hammer and dragged the men to safety.

“The heat and the smoke, the flames were coming up underneath the car and people trying to extract the driver’s side,” Dileanis said.

The fire came so close that his own car was melted by the flames.

“There were fires on both sides of the road and I looked over and the fire was really close to my car,” he said.

He says other witnesses saw the moments that led up to the crash.

“One of the women said she had seen the actual crash and said they were going pretty, pretty fast,” he explained.

Days after the crash, Dileanis is still rattled by the flames. He is crediting those who risked their own lives to save strangers.

“They put their health at risk, they could’ve been burned pretty badly and they went all the way and got them out of the car,” Dileanis said.

Woodland CHP says the driver of the BMW lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a utility pole.

The driver, 25-year-old Zachary Coker of Citrus Heights, was transported to UC Davis Medical Center with major injuries where he was arrested. Ty Burks, his passenger who is also 25, sustained moderate injuries, according to CHP.

CHP believes alcohol and/or drugs are a factor in the crash. Anyone with information is asked to contact the California Highway Patrol Woodland Area at (530) 662-4685.

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