LAKE ELSINORE (CBSLA) — A man has died after his car crashed into a pole in Lake Elsinore Sunday night, despite the heroic efforts of passers-by who braved the flames of the engulfed vehicle.

Screams of people asking for fire extinguishers can be heard in the dramatic rescue attempt caught on cell phone camera. The crash happened on Railroad Canyon Road near Church Road Sunday night.

Steven Cardoza was one of the first drivers who saw the car after it crashed.

“We tried opening the door, the passenger door, and it just — it wasn’t moving, it wasn’t budging,” Cardoza told CBS2 News Monday.

Cardoza said the the vehicle’s rear window was broken, so some witnesses attempted to get the unconscious driver out that way, to no avail. He said using a fire extinguisher only made things worse.

“There was a power line somewhere that we hadn’t seen, and it just went off,” recalled Cardoza.

Sparks can be seen coming off a power line above the vehicle.

Eventually, a person with landscaping tools stopped at the site, and the crowd attempted to get the door open by hitting the vehicle with the tools. Again, they were unsuccessful.

“People were hacking away at it, and it just got to a point where flames were just — it was too much,” said Cardoza. “We couldn’t do anything.”

The 19-year-old male driver did not survive the crash.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept. is investigating what led up to the collision. They are looking into reports that the driver might have been street racing.

Cardoza could not confirm those reports, but he told CBS2 there have been accidents on that road before.

“If you’re not familiar with that road, you know, and you start taking some of these turns… you will lose control,” warned Cardoza.

A woman who was in the car was able to escape with minor injuries.

The name of the driver has not been officially released.


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