Above the Call, Division of Adult Parole Operations

California Parole Apprehension Team agents rescue driver from wrecked car

Smoldering hillside with a smashed car on its side.
Two CPAT agents assisted a driver trapped in a car, dangerously close to an approaching grass fire.

By James Gruender, Parole Agent III
Division of Adult Parole Operations
Southern Region CPAT

A standard day for two parole agents took a drastic turn as they helped pull a woman from a car as fire rapidly approached.

Two men in dark shirts with badges printed on them.
CPAT Agents Raymond Ernandez, left, and George Meza.

On Aug. 2, 2018, at 10:35 a.m., Southern Region California Parole Apprehension Team (CPAT) Agents Raymond Ernandez and George Meza were traveling on the freeway near Fallbrook when they saw smoke coming from a fire near the freeway.

As they approached the area, they saw several people standing on the freeway pointing down a hill toward the fire.

The agents saw a white Kia that had been involved in a rollover accident that had come to rest at the bottom of a hill next to the freeway. The vehicle’s engine had been thrown 50 yards from the wreck. Heat from the engine had caused a grass fire which was rapidly spreading toward the wreckage.

Agents Ernandez and Meza immediately exited their state vehicle and were told there was a woman trapped in the vehicle.

The agents ran down the hill toward the wrecked vehicle. Since the car was on its side, the only way they saw to save the trapped occupant before flames engulfed the car was to kick out the windshield. The flames were getting closer.

Agent Ernandez kicked out the windshield, allowing both agents to pull the driver from the vehicle. The female was bleeding and complained of chest pains.

The agents carried the female to the top of the hill where an ambulance had arrived and began lifesaving efforts on the patient.