Neighbor Praised After Saving Driver in San Jose Crash

A 19-year-old man "sprang into action," breaking a car window with a rock, calling for help, turning off the car's ignition and with a neighbor's help pulling the crash victim from the smoking car, fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said.

By Sasha Lekach
|  Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012  |  Updated 10:14 PM PDT
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Images of SFFD Station 7

Firefighters received a report Tuesday night that a vehicle had crashed into the garage of a home on Elrose Ave. in San Jose and that there was a person trapped inside the car.

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A 19-year-old neighbor who witnessed an allegedly intoxicated driver crash her SUV into a home in San Jose Tuesday night is being hailed as a hero for his actions to save the driver, according to a San Jose fire captain.

Firefighters received a report at 10:09 p.m. that a vehicle had struck the garage of a home at 5072 Elrose Ave. and that there was a person trapped inside the car, San Jose fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said.

The car had hit a gas meter, and PG&E was contacted by emergency responders around 10:30 p.m. Crews managed to stop the gas flow around 12:27 a.m. today, PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said.

Gas service was restored by this afternoon, according to the utility.

Firefighters today acknowledged the heroic acts of across-the-street neighbor Austin Riley, 19, who saw the woman, later identified by San Jose police as Viktoria Anneliesa Bristow, 41, of San Jose, slumped over the wheel unconscious after the crash, Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said Riley "sprang into action," breaking a car window with a rock, calling for help, turning off the car's ignition and with a neighbor's help pulling Bristow from the car.

Using public safety knowledge he remembered from television, Gutierrez said, Riley asked the woman a series of questions such as 'What's your age, your name and who is the president?' as she started to regain consciousness once safely out of the car, which had been filling with smoke.

Police said Bristow was allegedly intoxicated when she crashed into the garage. No residents were injured in the crash.

Bristow was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for evaluation then booked into Santa Clara County Jail on one count of misdemeanor DUI, police said. She is being held on $10,000 bail.

Gutierrez said the fire department has asked Riley to be honored Thursday at Fire Station 9 on 3410 Ross Ave., from which firefighters had responded to the crash.

The fire captain said she is also speaking to the city council to make sure Riley's actions are noted by the city.

"We like recognizing the heroes in the community," Gutierrez said.

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