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Freeway Crash Onlookers Pull Toddler out of Car Moments Before Explosion

Times Staff Writer

A 2-year-old boy was pulled to safety from a burning car on the Costa Mesa Freeway on Sunday afternoon moments before the gas tank exploded and destroyed the vehicle, which had rammed slower traffic from behind, authorities said.

The boy’s father, Miguel Mota, 28, of Costa Mesa, was arrested at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana on charges of felony drunk driving and felony child endangerment, said CHP dispatcher John Isbister. Mota and his son, Miguel Mota Jr., were both treated for moderate injuries at Western Medical Center.

“Mota was doing 65 miles per hour in the fast lane and didn’t hit the breaks until the last instant,” Isbister said. Mota’s car burst into flames, but he and his son were pulled from the auto by onlookers.

“Apparently, they pulled the kid out just in time,” Isbister said. The names of the people who pulled the Motas from the burning car were not available, Isbister said.

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Mota’s car was in heavy traffic about 1:40 p.m. on the southbound freeway just past Bristol Street when it collided with the rear of a car driven by William Pool, 18. Pool and his passenger, Steve Talian, 16, both of Orange, suffered minor injuries and were treated at College Community Hospital.

Pool’s car was pushed into the rear of a third car, which was traveling about 10 or 15 m.p.h. in heavy traffic, Isbister said. The occupants of that car, Jim Osborn, 21, and Karen Osborn, 25, both of New Mexico, were not injured.

Traffic that was headed for the beach and the Orange County Fairgrounds was diverted, and the freeway’s southbound lanes were closed for about 2 1/2 hours.


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