LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles motorcycle police officer on his way to work Thursday helped save the life of a woman who became trapped in a car fire following a crash on a Los Angeles freeway.
Officer Tyrhone Ragland was riding to work on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway about 4:35 a.m. when he saw flames engulfing a 1995 Lexus 3000 beside the freeway near the La Brea Avenue off-ramp... more...
In the words of LAFD Battalion Chief Mike Arguelles, Armanda Renee Donnelly, the westbound motorist trapped in the burning car, "is going to be home for Thanksgiving dinner".
Reassuring words indeed, especially when you see remnants of the burning sedan in which she was trapped.
LAFD's Task Force 26 arrived quickly after Police Officers and fully extinguished the blaze. Within moments LAFD Firefighters were crawling into the smoke-filled and highly confined remnants of the almost unrecognizable vehicle, searching diligently for expected human remains - only to discover Ms. Donnelly, conscious and alert - but badly entangled in the wreckage.
Though hydraulic powered rescue tools were immediately at-the-ready, and with LAFD's renowned Heavy Rescue Company 56 just minutes away, the situation dictated that Firefighters with hand tools would be best suited to safely and most expeditiously extricate Ms. Donnelly.
Crawling through the wreckage - the sedan still on its side at the top of an embankment but now secured by rope to a nearby Fire Engine - Firefighters offered words of comfort and reassurance to Ms. Donnelly as they worked non-stop in oppressive and highly confined conditions for nearly one-half hour to fully disentangle her from the wreckage.
Amazingly, once freed she had no obvious injuries, and LAFD Paramedics described her as being in good condition during a precautionary transport for further medical evaluation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
The photo below was taken after LAFD Heavy Rescue 56 righted the vehicle and brought it to the roadway. The obvious force of the impact to the roof and door of this vehicle, combined with the fact that the vehicle was on its side and ablaze, makes Ms. Donnelly's survival an almost miraculous occurrence.
That morning, Ms. Donnelly's guardian angel was riding a Police Motorcycle.
Thanks to Officer Ragland and swift-acting members of LAPD's Wilshire Community Police Station and West Traffic Division, combined with the efforts of Los Angeles Firefighters, next Thursday will indeed be a special Thanksgiving Day for Armanda Renee Donnelly.
UPDATE: While the photos above continue to amaze, a touching video by veteran television reporter Paul Dandridge of KCAL-TV brings it all home.
We welcome you to view KCAL's on-line video update of this story Macromedia Flash required).
What an honor it has been for us to finally meet this amazing and gracious woman, and to know that through the teamwork described above, she is safely home for the holidays.
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department