PALMDALE, California --Sheriff's deputies and a good Samaritan rescued men from a burning car after it crashed into a cinder block wall in Palmdale, California early Thursday, authorities said.
"It got really bad really fast, the smell of that burning wire and oil," David Perez said.
He arrived first and helped pull the passenger out of the burning vehicle.
"I saw the engine compartment starting to flare up, and that's when I said I got to pull him out or else he'll burn," he said.
Perez says the man's legs were wedged under the dashboard of the front passenger side and with flames building, he knew he would have had to risk his own life to save the man.
"I struggled because he was heavy and he was caught, but I just pulled him really hard," he said.
After freeing the man mere seconds before flames totally engulfed the passenger side of the vehicle, Perez says he joined at least three sheriff's deputies who had just arrived and helped pull the unconscious driver out of the Mercedes CLK 500 before it was too late.
"Finally, two of the deputies began pulling the driver out through the broken driver-side window, while the third deputy got into the car to free the man's legs. And they did all this while the car was burning," Lt. Brian Dunn said.
The driver was transported to a hospital unconscious and in serious but stable condition. His passenger suffered minor injuries.
"I don't have to wear a uniform to risk my life. I've been a security officer, I've done all that stuff. I don't consider myself a hero. I just consider myself a good person that would do that for anybody," Perez said.
He says he has to credit his mom for teaching him to help others.
"My mom taught me always to be kind to everybody, to help," Perez said.
It's unclear if alcohol may have played a role in the incident. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
City News Service contributed to this report
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