Man pulls accident victim from SUV
Using a hammer to break out a driver’s side window, a Tahoe City man pulled Kristina Cade from a flipped and burning car Tuesday morning. Flames engulfed the vehicle minutes later.
Cade, 30, of South Lake Tahoe, was dazed when Brenden Biggs Sr. scooped her out of the window of a 2002 Infinity sport utility vehicle. She rolled the car around 8:45 a.m. after failing to negotiate a downhill curve a mile north of Emerald Bay on Highway 89.
“Drunk driving is the suspected cause,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Sherry Reehl. “Apparently she went off the road and hit a boulder and the car burst into flames.”
Biggs, en route to Cascade Properties to do pier work, was headed southbound on 89 when he spotted the wreck. A man who witnessed the crash had stopped and was already next to the SUV trying to kick out one of its windows.
Biggs, 35, ran toward the car telling his co-worker, Cameron Lewis, 29, of Squaw Valley, to grab a hammer from their work truck. Lewis couldn’t find one, so Biggs found it himself and busted out the window.
“I didn’t think about it, I just did it,” Biggs said. “Once I yelled at her to get out, she moved pretty quick. She was still pretty incoherent.”
Flames were burning the car’s belly as he led Cade from the scene of the accident. He wrapped cuts on her elbow and arm with his shirt and put her in his truck, a safe distance from the burning car. Biggs was modest about his life-saving rescue Tuesday afternoon.
“I had a little adrenaline rush but went to work,” he said. “She’s extremely lucky, I can tell you that. She’s lucky not to have been killed in the rollover, not to mention that it came down right next to a 4-foot-thick pine tree.”
The blaze ignited pine trees around the SUV, which came to rest off the side of the northbound lane in part of D.L. Bliss State Park.
“It scorched several large trees and a large snag,” said Karl Wallischeck, duty officer at Meeks Bay Fire Protection District. “There was no fire spread with the snow.”
The SUV’s gas tank never exploded, said Wallischeck, but it tires exploded and and it flared up several times.
“It’s extremely unlikely because of the way gas tanks are designed,” he said. “They are very well sealed.”
A complaint will be filed against Cade at the District Attorney’s Office. Cade told an officer that she didn’t remember the crash.
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