SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A 67-year-old man was dead Thursday after a car involved in a street race in Santa Ana crashed into his truck, causing a fiery wreck. Police said the victim, longtime Orange County Register editor Eugene Harbrecht, was turning onto Santa Clara Avenue from Bristol Street when two racing cars came toward him at about 11:45 a.m.
“And when they got to this intersection, they struck the black truck, which was making a left turn onto Santa Clara Avenue, knocking it out of the intersection,” Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, with the Santa Ana Police Department, said. “They struck an electrical box, blew that off the sidewalk, and then the vehicle hits the fence and gets stuck in the fence.”
After witnessing the violent crash that ended in flames, two good Samaritans ran to pull Harbrecht out of his truck and put out the fire.
“The flames started going up and about, so at that point you just want to make sure that the guy doesn’t get engulfed in flames,” Luis Gonzalez said. “And we did everything we could to get him out.”
“The gentleman in the truck, we couldn’t see him until we broke the glass, and he was still unresponsive,” Guillermo Velazquez said. “Our biggest thing was just the flame, we noticed that the flame burst a little bit bigger as the car laid there, so my biggest concern was just getting the gentleman out of the vehicle.”
The pair successfully pulled Harbrecht out of the vehicle, but police said he died from his injuries after being taken to UC Irvine Medical Center.
Witnesses said the driver of the BMW was injured, but conscious, and was taken to the hospital in unknown condition.
The second driver involved in the street race fled the scene, but a car matching the description was later located near the post office and the driver was taken into custody.