Photos of the crash provided by Josiah Andrews.

A group of Eureka locals pulled two people from a crash along Highway 101 near Hopland yesterday evening, minutes before the wreck erupted into flames.

22-year-old Eureka man Josiah Andrews told the Outpost that he and his friends were returning home from a day trip to Satna Rosa when they happened upon the crash and rushed to the victims’ aid.

“We saw a car on the side of the road with its hazard lights on, and a woman was crying and pointed over the hillside,” Andrews said. “We looked down and saw smoke and two people hanging outside the van window. The van was already on fire by then.”

Local rescuers Josiah Andrews (left) and Lacy Mitchell (right). Eureka locals Emily Buck as well as Josh and Jesse, who chose to only go by their first names, also aided in the rescue.

After pulling the two to safety, Andrews said he tried his best to extinguish the growing flames with water bottles being tossed down to him from their car, while his friend Lacy Mitchell spoke with the injured woman on scene, keeping her awake until paramedics arrived.

“By the time I got down to the bottom of the hill the woman passenger was laying on the ground and bleeding from the head,” Mitchell told the Outpost. “I tried to stay calm, talk to her and keep her distracted from the pain. I stayed with her until the paramedics got there.”

According to the CHP incident report, one of the crash victims was airlifted to the hospital. Their conditions are unknown at this time, but Hopland Fire Protection District Chief Mitch Franklin is praising the Humboldt heroes for their efforts.

“Thank God they were there to help,” Franklin told the Ukiah Daily Journal. “When we arrived, the vehicle was fully-involved and there were several bystanders on scene that had helped the two occupants exit the van.”

Although the Eureka locals may very well have saved the lives of both crash victims, they’re taking the stance that they just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

“Something like that makes you think a lot,” Andrews said. “I just imagined if it was one of my friends [hurt in a crash], would I have been able to keep the same levelheadedness? I’m glad we were able to help.”

“I recently lost someone very close to me in a car accident. I didn’t really think about what I was doing until afterward; you just think ‘this person needs my help,’” Mitchell said. “I got emotional toward the end. Everything happens so fast. You just need to count your blessings.”