A veteran videographer is being credited with rescuing a driver whose stalled vehicle burst into flames after it was struck by a passing car on the 110 Freeway early Sunday.
An OnScene.TV video captured the terrifying moments and shows RMG News videographer Austin Raishbrook jumping into action.
In the video, a cameraman appears to be parked off the highway and is filming a dark-colored SUV stalled in a freeway lane near Gage Avenue.
The rear of the SUV was hit once by a passing vehicle, knocking off the right brake light and disabling any working lights. Meanwhile, cars sped past on both sides of the SUV. At one point, a small white car with its emergency lights flashing slowly drove by the right side of the SUV before driving away.
Raishbrook told The Times he was driving on the freeway toward downtown Los Angeles when he spotted the stalled SUV. He pulled off to the shoulder, put on his emergency strobe lights and began filming.
About 45 seconds later, a dark-colored sports car zoomed toward the stalled SUV at about 65 mph and slammed into its rear, he said.
The SUV burst into flames and spun several times across the freeway lanes, leaving the driver trapped inside.
At that moment, Raishbrook said he forgot about his news-gathering abilities.
“I turned from a news cameraman into a rescuer, basically,” he said.
Raishbrook reached into his emergency kit, slipped on a yellow safety vest and grabbed a fire extinguisher. He then dashed across the freeway lanes toward the fireball.
Using the fire extinguisher, Raishbrook smashed one of the SUV’s windows. The driver, he said, was unconscious and slumped over the steering wheel.
Raishbrook said he ran to the driver’s side door and managed to pop it open. As soon as the door opened, he was met by a wall of smoke and flames.
From there, Raishbrook tried to release the man’s seat belt, but the heat from the fire hampered the effort.
Raishbrook said he was able to slip the man out of the shoulder strap and out of the SUV, he said. He then dragged the driver about 10 to 15 feet.
The video shows Raishbrookin a reflective vest holding the driver’s arms as a cameraman grabs the man’s legs. They lift and drag the man away from the flames.
Paramedics later transported the man to an area hospital.
Raishbrook and his twin brother, Howard, were featured in the 2008 reality TV show “Stringers: LA.” The brothers own and run RMG News, a news video agency that supplies local and national TV programs with footage of crime and other mayhem in the Los Angeles area.
In a 2008 interview with The Times, Austin Raishbrook said he lived off the energy drink Red Bull. He once filmed his own harrowing escape from a fiery apartment, which he shared with his brother. Sales of the footage topped $10,000.
“I’ll keep doing this till I can’t get out of bed in the morning,” Austin said.
According to Raishbrook’s biography on RMG News, he was a technical advisor on the set of the film “Nightcrawler.”
The film, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, follows a freelance cameraman who becomes obsessed with crime in Los Angeles and getting the best shot.
Raishbrook said he has seen hundreds of crashes, shootings and fires over his 20 years of work.
But he can’t help reliving the New Year’s Day crash.
The ordeal lasted three to four minutes, but it felt like an eternity for Raishbrook.
“I have gone through that scenario several times in my head. What would I do if I had to do it,” he said. “I will always help first and shoot later.”
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2:50 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Raishbrook.
9:40 a.m.: This article was updated with additional background on Raishbrook.
This article was originally published at 8:10 a.m.