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Man trapped in burning vehicle saved by passers-by

June 09, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

GLAMIS — A buildup of sand on Highway 78 is being blamed for a head-on collision that left one person trapped in a burning vehicle before he was rescued by passers-by.

The 3:45 p.m. accident occurred as Julie Elizabeth Sweeney, 22, of Lake Havasu, Ariz., was driving west on Highway 78 at about 65-70 mph, according to the California Highway Patrol.

"As (Sweeney) drove through the pocket of sand on the roadway, she lost control … and swerved into the eastbound traffic lane," a Highway Patrol collision report states.


The driver of the second car, Thomas Clayton Brown, 63, of Scottsdale, Ariz., reportedly did not have time to react and the vehicles collided head on.

Brown's vehicle rolled down a 75-foot embankment and caught fire, leaving him trapped inside with compound fractures to his left arm and both femurs. Sweeney's car remained on the roadway, blocking the westbound lane, the report states.

Several people passing by stopped and helped remove Brown from the vehicle. Both Sweeney and Brown were transported to Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley. Sweeney suffered minor injuries and complained of pain to her left foot, the report states.

Information on Brown's condition was unavailable Saturday.

A Brawley Fire Department spokesman said one engine was sent to the scene, but in light of the advanced state of the fire and because it was out of harm's way, it was allowed to burn itself out. He said two crews from Gold Cross

Ambulance also responded.

A county fire crew also responded but was returned to station before arriving on-scene.

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