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News Release

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Media Relations

LAPD Bomb Squad Officer Rescues Man from Burning Car on Christmas Day NR13544an

Los Angeles:   A member of the LAPD Bomb Squad rescued a man on Christmas Day from a burning vehicle following a fiery crash on the San Diego Freeway near the 101 Freeway.

On December 25, 2013, just before 2:00 pm, Officer ­­­­­­­­­­Don Thompson, a 26-year veteran with the Los Angeles Police Department, was heading to work on the southbound 405 Freeway just south of the 101 Freeway when he saw a vehicle on the northbound side crash into the center divider.  The collision was so violent that the vehicle immediately began to catch fire.  Officer Thompson stopped his bomb squad truck and immediately jumped over the center divider, and ran to the burning vehicle to render aid.  The driver of the vehicle was unconscious and still trapped behind the wheel as the flames began to engulf the front seat compartment.  The car’s interior continued to fill with smoke and flames as Officer Thompson worked feverishly to cut the elderly man free from his seatbelt.   

Officer Thompson was able to cut the driver free and pull him out and away from the burning station wagon.  Two citizens also stopped and assisted Officer Thompson in pulling the victim further from the fiery crash and to a safer location along the freeway.  Within moments, the entire vehicle was fully engulfed in flames as Officer Thompson and citizens remained with the elderly driver.

Los Angeles Fire Department personnel from Fire Station #83 responded to the scene and were able to extinguish the flames within a few moments of their arrival.  “The vehicle was fully engulfed when we arrived on scene,” said LAFD Captain Cameron Cress.  “If the LAPD officer had not taken the quick action to rescue that man, this would have been a fatality.  The Bomb Squad Officer definitely saved his life,” Cress concluded.

The driver of the vehicle described as an adult male in his mid to late 60s, was transported to a local hospital for moderate injuries.  Officer Thompson sustained serious injuries including first and second degree burns to his hands and leg along with smoke inhalation and abrasions.  Officer Thompson was treated by LAFD personnel at scene and later received additional treatment for his injuries at an urgent care facility.

For additional information about this incident, please contact the LAPD Media Relations Section at 213-486-5910.