Officer Saves Suspected DUI Driver from Burning Car

The driver, 21-year-old Basurto Sierra Ruiel, remains in the hospital, but faces DUI charges

A police officer risked his own safety when he entered a burning car to reach the driver inside, Escondido Police officials said.

Officer Joseph Putulowski was called to respond to a suspected DUI crash around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the intersection of Valley Parkway and Broadway.

Investigators learned that a tan Lincoln Navigator was driving west on Valley Parkway when a driver in a gray Nissan Altima ran a red light and collided with the Lincoln.

When Putulowski arrived two minutes later, he saw the Nissan was on fire and the driver unconscious.

The officer first tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, but it was growing too large.

Instead, he got into the burning vehicle himself and pulled out the driver, who had significant head injuries, police said.

The driver has been identified as Basurto Sierra Ruiel, 21, of San Fernando. He remains in the hospital, but but is facing DUI charges, according to officials.

In the second vehicle, two people were injured. One was able to get out, but the driver had to be extracted using the fire department’s Jaws of Life.

Officer Putulowski is being praised for his heroic actions, but he says he doesn't feel like a hero.

Escondido police will continue to investigate. If you have information about the crash, call Officer Bruce Masten at 760-839-4424.

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