Earlier this month, a Santa Ana man was arrested on suspicion of DUI after CHP officers rescued his wife and a 9-month-old baby girl from a burning 2001 Chevy Tahoe.
Fortunately for the family, a California Highway Patrol officer watched from the other side of the 55 freeway as the sport utility vehicle drove off of a curve in the freeway and hit a tree at 3:52 a.m.
SUV Hits Tree & Bursts Into Flames on 55
The SUV quickly burst into flames and the rescue was on. When highway patrol officers arrived at the scene, they found the SUV’s driver, 22-year-old L. Morales of Santa Ana outside with his 2-year-old son.
According to California Highway Patrol Officer Tim Montoya, the toddler was crying hysterically and pointing at the SUV. When Montoya asked Morales if anyone else was in the vehicle, he didn’t respond.
K. De Rosa, 22, of Santa Ana was sitting in the front seat semi-conscious. As the flames got closer and closer to her face, she didn’t seem to be aware of what was happening. That’s when Montoya, a father of two young children heard screams from the backseat and spotted a crying aby, face down on the floor of the vehicle.
As Montoya’s partner freed the children’s mother, in a brave rescue Montoya thrust his arms into the flames and pulled the child to safety.
Montoya said that the baby girl was covered in blood and cuts. He placed her in a grassy area and ran back to the Tahoe so he could help Officer Daryl Hansen save the children’s mother.
The infant and toddler were transported to Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange in serious condition. The baby girl had cuts and bruises on her legs and feet while her two-year-old brother suffered a hematoma on his head.
De Rosa was transported to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. Though she had serious cuts and bruises on her face, she was expected to her to survive, according to Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.
According to authorities, Morales did test above the legal limit, however, his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) has not been released. He suffered major back injuries and was taken to Western Medical Center.
Montoya said that while there were car seats in the SUV, investigators do not believe that the baby was properly secured.
According to DMV records, this wasn’t the first time Morales has been in trouble. In 2014, he pled guilty to driving on a suspended license and DUI.