What could have resulted in a multiple-car pileup Thursday evening when a pickup truck—later determined to have been operated by an alleged drunk driver—overturned on a blind curve of rural Los Alamos Road in Murrieta instead revealed the character of several community members.
Patch reported on the accident that happened at about 6:35 p.m. Thursday at Crawford Canyon Road, east of Whitewood Road, but Friday learned that before emergency personnel arrived, several citizens had stopped to help.
One of those people was Murrieta City Councilman Alan Long, who was driving along Los Alamos with his son in the car when he came across the accident. Long, a trained paramedic who works as a battalion chief for the Anaheim Fire Department called 911 but in the meantime, parked his car so as to block the flow of traffic and approached the crashed vehicle. He determined that the driver was trapped inside.
“The doors were wedged shut and his feet were tangled between the dashboard and the steering wheel,” Long said. “His body was halfway in the bed of the truck but his legs were pinned inside the cab; I could hear him moaning.”
Soon, a woman who identified herself as a nurse stopped her car and offered medical assistance.
Some construction workers also stopped, and Long was able to use a crowbar they had on their work truck to pry one of the victim’s truck doors open.
At the same time, Vista Murrieta High School Head Football and Track Coach Coley Candaele, along with Assistant Football Coach Joseph Ramer, happened upon the scene.
They got out and directed traffic, Long said.
Long kept working to free the man from the wreckage while assessing his injuries.
According to Murrieta Fire Department Spokesman Matt Corelli, responding firefighter/paramedics arrived to find the victim had already been successfully rescued from the truck by Long.
“He wasn’t seriously injured but he was stuck in a precarious position and so Councilman Long pulled him out and did a preliminary assessment and gave our guys his report,” Corelli said.
Murrieta police Lt. Jon Flavin confirmed that officers arrived to find several citizens on scene. Flavin said the victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment of minor injuries, then was arrested on suspicion of DUI.
The crash happened at a sharp curve in the roadway, causing complete blockage of both lanes of Los Alamos Road for nearly an hour and a half.
“The help was definitely much appreciated on that dark area right there,” Flavin said. “It was nice to hear that several people stopped to help out.”
Long said because he is a firefighter, it was nothing out of the ordinary for him and was sure that any other off-duty firefighter would have done the same.
“What is extraordinary is the number of people who stopped to render aid,” Long said. “The coaches, the construction workers, the nurse who offered her expertise. They didn’t have to be told to do it. In my opinion, it very well could have been a five-car pileup with innocent people injured.”