(June 30, 2005) -- The LBPD photo above [lighting adjusted by us to bring out detail] and details below follow-up on a story first reported by LBReport.com shortly after it occurred. At approximately 12:25 a.m. on June 25, the LBPD unit and another vehicle were involved in a terrible crash at Los Coyotes Diagonal and Palo Verde Ave.
As LBReport.com reported at the time, the circumstances were indeed "both horrifying and heroic."
The LBPD unit with two officers inside was heading southwest on Los Coyotes on routine patrol. LBPD says a 1996 Mazda MPV, going in the opposite direction on Los Coyotes at speeds (LBPD says witnesses report) of 60-70 mph, attempted to turn left onto Palo Verde in front of the PD unit and the collision occurred without the Mazda applying its brakes.
Officer Michael Barth in the PD unit's passenger seat managed to exit the vehicle and ran to the driverís side to assist his partner, Officer Binh Thanh Duong.
Officer Duong was seated behind the wheel. He was unconscious...and trapped. The force of the collision was so great that it wedged the engine compartment against the bottom of the driver's seat, trapping Officer Duong's leg.
As Officer Barth checked on his partner, the police unit burst into flames.
Now, details we didn't have previously.
Martin Brown, 21, of LB ran barefoot through broken glass to assist the officer. He used a pocket knife to cut through the shoelaces and tongue of the officer's boot to free Officer Duong. "One boot was stuck in between the emergency brake and the seat so I used a little [pocket] knife to free him," Mr. Brown told LBReport.com. In a matter of fact tone of voice, he explained, "All I did was cut through the boot on top, you know, through the tongue and laces, and it got him out of the car. It was on fire, you know." Was it a big fire? "It was going pretty good," Mr. Brown said.
Why did he did do it? "Because he needed help and I was there," Mr. Brown replied, adding "I just happened to be driving in the area taking my girlfriend home. Her parents wanted her home at 12:30 a.m., and we were on time and that's why I was there."
Steven Driskell, Jr, 19, of Lakewood likewise came to the assistance of Officer Duong. "When I got there, there was another guy helping get him out of the car," he told LBReport.com, adding "we realized we had to do something because the car was burning."
A 17 year-old LB resident and a 15 year-old LB resident assisted by running across the street to a nearby house and used buckets of water to attempt to stop the flames from advancing in the police vehicle. (We'll identify the two teens under 18 if their parents/guardians approve, but for now we wanted to let our readers know what happened.)
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Officer Duong was successfully freed. He was transported to a local hospital with two broken legs and head injuries. Officer Barth received minor injuries.
Sgt. Hans Kohnlein of LBPD's Accident Investigation Detail tells LBReport.com that he believes the civilians who came to the Officers' assistance are virtually certain to be nominated to receive awards at next year's LBPD annual Police Awards luncheon.
The Mazda's driver received minor injuries and was booked for felony driving under the influence.