A driver is alive today thanks to a deputy and a bystander who pulled him from his burning Land Rover an instant before it became engulfed in flames.
The driver was rescued from his burning Land Rover near the Los Alisos/Marguerite intersection around 11:30 Thursday morning. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Sheriff's Deputy J. Popp and a bystander pulled the man to safety "about a minute" before the vehicle was engulfed in flames, Popp said.
Popp arrived at the scene to find bystanders screaming that a man was trapped inside the burning vehicle.
"I was expecting a drunk driver—I didn’t remember them saying anything about a vehicle on fire," he said of the dispatch call. "I arrived and saw a Land Rover pinned between a tree and another tree, then I noticed a car was on fire."
No drugs or alcohol are expected as causes for the wreck, Popp said. The driver had been traveling to work eastbound on Los Alisos when he became dizzy.
"He just remembers being tired, then feeling dizzy, then us pulling him out of the car," Popp said.
The driver, whose name has not been released, veered across both lanes of traffic and crashed on the opposite embankment between trees. When Popp arrived, he saw that both doors had been smashed shut after knocking into the trees, trapping the driver in the burning vehicle.
He found the driver sprawled out on the passengers seat trying to dislodge his foot from beneath the drivers seat.
Once his foot was free, Popp and an unnamed bystander pulled the driver out of the vehicle and safely away from the burning wreckage.
Popp has served on the sheriff's department for 11 years. For the last two and a half years he has been stationed in Mission Viejo, where he patrols the northern portion of the city. Out of safety concerns, he asked that his first name not be used in this report.