At least five die in three-vehicle crash
Estimates are that 11 people were trapped in a van that caught on fire, including a couple and nine juveniles, according to Battalion Chief Tim Sappek of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
Three people, including an off-duty battalion chief from Corona, were able to pull two people from the van before the fire got too large to continue.
"The people were alive when the van was on fire. They were trapped and they were screaming. They got one man who was outside the van and a woman from the van out ... when fire got too well established for them to continue," Sappek said.
Off-duty Battalion Chief David Shoemaker, Eric Luning of Bakersfield and Donald Bronaugh of Rialto were the good Samaritans who worked to save the individuals they could after witnessing the crash.
"Someone was able to get the back doors off it and ... it was getting really hot and the flames were starting to come over the inside of the van and a woman was screaming about her leg... eventually we were able to get her leg free and that was great to get her out of there," Shoemaker said.
There was speculation on the California Highway Patrol's Web site that some of the deceased were in a church van at the time of the crash, but that could not be confirmed by CHP representatives late Saturday night.
The accident was called out to officials from the CHPs Barstow office and two vehicles hauling trailers are said to have rolled over, possible striking a third, according to the Web site.
Officer Eric Denny of the CHP said the initial call was that people in a three-vehicle accident were caught inside a vehicle. When they arrived they found that a Ford F-250 was traveling northbound when for an unknown reason it drifted into the southbound lanes and collided with the van before hitting a Toyota Corolla.
Initial reports from the location were that up to eight other people were injured, several of whom had to be flown by air ambulance to trauma centers.
The Major Accident Investigation Team was called to the scene to continue the investigation.
Highway 395 was still closed as of 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
BS Ranch Perspective
There still is some great Hero's that work here in Rialto, it is just a shame that they have to make their homes so far away from Rialto, If they had a more affordable wage they could call Rialto home. In order for a Rialto Employee to spend wisely they must purchase their home over a 20 minute away from Rialto,
However, having said that, the people that are in need are comforted to know that they might be on their way home and can offer their help, because they will stop to help as in this case on this particular Instance.