CHP Officers Risk Lives to Save Driver Pinned in Fiery Wreck
The entire Bright family and all of Evans extended family would like to say thank you and express our greatest gratitude to all of the rescue responders who helped save Evans life, especially CHP officer Baudette who was first on scene and risked her own safety to save Evans life.
EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. - A driver and passenger were injured when their car hit a tree and caught fire near Diamond Springs Thursday morning. A 1996 BMW 325 had been traveling on Mother Lode Drive near Lindberg Avenue when it traveled off the road and struck a tree, CHP Officer Quinn Cuthbertson said. Passenger Kevin Jones, 25, was able to escape the car as the engine caught fire, but driver Evan Bright, 22, was trapped inside.
According to a witness, the driver was heading westbound on Mother Lode Dr. toward Lindberg Ave. shortly after 8:00 a.m. when, for an unknown reason, he lost control, swerved to the left across oncoming traffic lanes and smashed into a tree just East of Lindberg Ave.
No one heard the car tires skidding and there were no skid marks. A neighbor whose husband is a contractor said that she did not hear what she thought was a wreck, but a load of lumber being “dropped” by a delivery truck.
The car sustained extensive damage as it hit the tree head-on. The engine compartment took tremendous damage and erupted into smoke upon impact. The passenger was able to get himself out of the car but the driver was injured and pinned into the seat by the compacted car. Within minutes, the first responder arrived and the CHP Officer rushed to the driver’s aid. She could not get the driver’s door open due to accident damage. She tried lifting the driver out with the aid of the passage but he was pinned.
That is when things went from an emergency to an urgent crisis as the cloud of smoke coming from the engine compartment exploded into flames.
CHP officers had heard the collision and Officer Lisa Beaudette arrived shortly after it happened. “She assisted Bright as the vehicle was rapidly becoming engulfed in flames,” Cuthbertson said. Beaudette ran back to her car to get a fire extinguisher, trying to fight back the flames as the flames came into the passenger area.
The CHP officer was still the only emergency personnel on the scene. She ran to her car and returned to the pinned driver with a fire extinguisher. She emptied the extinguisher but it only slowed the flames temporarily. As the fire grew and threatened to engulf the driver’s compartment Officer Robert Nevins arrived and saw his colleague trying to extricate the driver. He grabbed his extinguisher and helped fight the flames and assisted Beaudette in getting Bright out of the vehicle. El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Crawford arrived and helped the two CHP officers drag Bright to safety.
At this time, the fire was moments from driving everyone away from the flames and danger. Everyone except the pinned driver. The driver that was facing the eminent prospects of burning to death with the flames licking his face.
Neither officer had on any fire protection and did not even have time to put on gloves to protect them from blood born disease. At this point, the two CHP officers were on their own with no help or protection, but they did not hesitate.
Ignoring all personal dangers, the two CHP officers grabbed the driver and using all their strength, they pulled him out of the window of his burning car and to safety where they began his initial treatment.
Within a few more minutes emergency responders from many agencies arrived, put out the fire, and transported the injured for treatment.
Emergency personnel took the passenger of the vehicle to nearby Marshall Hospital with undisclosed injuries. The driver had to be airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center due to significant injuries sustained in the impact, said officers.
Mother Lode Drive was closed in both directions for about an hour after the wreck.
At the scene, the driver self-identified himself as Evan Bright, and that was confirmed by his brothers Mason and Gavin who said that Evan is doing "OK."
“Due to the actions of the officers, Bright’s life was saved,” Cuthbertson said. The officers sustained injuries and Bright “would have burned to death” had the officers not assisted. They went “over and beyond the call of duty…without regard for their own safety,” Cuthbertson said, calling their actions “heroic.”
Beaudette said it was another day at work. “I was really, truly just doing my job. Anyone in the office would have done the same,” she said, noting that it was a team effort with Nevins.
Driver Evan Bright Seated - Passenger standing in green shirt, rescuer leaning over Evan