Two Good Samaritans who rescued a woman from a burning truck in September were honored as heroes by the California Highway Patrol on Thursday.
"I'm just grateful to be here and if it wasn't for these [two men], I wouldn't be alive right now, with my family," said Denise Perez, who was sitting in the passenger seat of a stalled pickup truck on the 60 Freeway when a Lexus slammed into it.
When the truck burst into flames on the freeway in the Mira Loma area east of Los Angeles, passersby Lawrence Sanchez and Rafael Rodriguez stopped and came to Perez's aid.
Sanchez, a UPS driver, used a fire extinguisher from his truck to beat back some of the flames, allowing Rodriguez, the vehicle’s driver and another unidentified Good Samaritan to pull Perez to safety.
"When I got there, they lifted her up and her whole head was on, on fire," Sanchez said at the recognition ceremony on Thursday.
The CHP said Sanchez and Rodriguez acted "without regard for their own safety."
Perez was hospitalized with what authorities described as "major" injuries. The Lexus driver and pickup driver suffered moderate injuries, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
CHP officers said they hope the third unidentified man who helped at the scene will come forward so they can present him with an award, too.