On Tuesday morning, a truck driver helped pull three young children from a burning vehicle on Highway 70 north of Marysville, California.
Jose Padilla Maciel, 31, of Yuba City, California, was traveling south on I-90, hauling fruit to an orchard in north Yuba County. He activated his turn signal and slowed down, preparing for a left turn into the driveway of an orchard. A Ford F150, driven by 28-year-old Nicole Billmeyer, was attempting to pass Maciel’s truck as he turned across the northbound lane, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.
Billmeyer struck the left corner of Maciel’s truck. Her car overturned and struck a light pole, which caused power lines to fall to the ground and the car to catch fire. In the backseat, Billmeyer’s three children – ages 5, 4, and 3 – were strapped into child seats.
Maciel immediately helped remove the children from the burning vehicle and moved the family to a safe distance away from the fire and power lines.
“It was scary,” Maciel told the Appeal-Democrat. “I’ve got kids. They were running through my mind. Thank God everybody walked away. It was bad.”
Billmeyer and her children were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries. Maciel was not injured. Many people in the area were without power most of the day, due to the damaged power lines, PG&E reported.
Maciel, employed by J.S. Johal and Sons, has been driving for about 10 years and said it’s common for other motorists to drive close to trucks at unsafe distances.
“All the time, they don’t give us our space,” Maciel said. “We’re always trying to get distance.”
CHP officials credit the use of child safety seats and seat belts to saving the lives of those in the crash.