Los Angeles

Good Samaritan Recounts Rescuing Women From Burning Crash

The young women in a fiery wreck early Sunday morning on the 91 Freeway might have perished if not for a good Samaritan who saw the crash, stopped his car, and ran to pull them free.

"When I was down there, I was like, 'I'm not going to leave y'all,'" said Danny Mitchell, 33, of South Los Angeles.

He's remarkably low-key about his role in the rescue and the risks he took to help two persons he did not know.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Raquel Stage said it's possible the two young women who were in the Scion that flipped and then caught fire might not have survived had Mitchell not come to their rescue and pulled them from the car as it was starting to burn.

"He was able to pull them both safely out and pull them away from the car before it became fully engulfed," Stage said.

Early Sunday morning on the Westbound 91 freeway at Carmenita Road, Mitchell saw the car swerve to avoid a truck and then lose control, he said.

The car flipped, went up an embankment beneath the Carmenita bridge and caught fire. Family grateful to Mitchell told NBC4 the young women were coming home from a party when the crash occurred. Mitchell was coming home from his job as a dancer in a male review called Black Magic, which performed Saturday night in Long Beach.

Stopping his own car by the side of the freeway, Mitchell found the two young women seriously injured and unable to extricate themselves, as the car began to burn.  One he was able to pull out fairly quickly, but the other was caught in seatbelts, he said.

"That's when I tried to get her out of the seatbelt because she was strapped in and tangled," said Mitchell.  "As I untangled her and pulled her out, another guy came out of nowhere and helped me get her legs, and we pulled her out. And as soon as we pulled her to safety, that's when the car exploded (into flames)."  

The family of the driver Kimberly Figueroa,22, said she remains hospitalized along with her friend Laura Bogarin who was riding as passenger in the car. Both are expected to recover.

"He's always looking to be helpful," said Mitchell's longtime friend Jimmy Wheat.  "That's just him."

Five years ago, Mitchell himself had been seriously wounded when he was shot multiple times, he said.  He thought back to his own struggle to survive, and shared that mental toughness with the two injured young women in the minutes before paramedics arrived.

Mitchell has remained in phone contact with family members of the young women, and is relieved to hear they are improving.

He downplayed his own heroism as what you do when someone is in critical need.

"I just hope somebody would have done the same thing for one of my family members," Mitchell said.

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