SAN DIEGO -- Two fast-acting good Samaritans rescued a woman who wound up trapped in a burning car Tuesday following a five-vehicle pileup on state Route 163 in the Miramar area, authorities reported.
The chain-reaction series of collisions began shortly after 8 a.m., when a box truck rear-ended a 2006 Toyota Highlander at high speed on the southbound side of the freeway, just north of state Route 52, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The force of the collision pushed the SUV into several vehicles that had come to a stop amid rush-hour congestion, after which the Highlander went off the roadway and caught fire, the CHP reported.
Realizing that the driver was still inside the burning vehicle, a U.S. Marine traveling on the freeway got out of his car, hurried over, broke out a passenger-side window with his elbow and pulled the woman to safety with help from a second witness.
Without the assistance of good Samaritans on the scene, the outcome of the crash would have been much more tragic, according to CHP.
Medics took the driver of the Highlander, a 48-year-old San Diego resident, and second motorist, a 29-year-old Poway woman, to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla for treatment of moderately serious and severe injuries, respectively, according to the CHP.
It was unclear if the driver of the commercial truck, a 37-year-old Los Angeles-area man, might face charges over the accident.