An unidentified woman is in critical condition at John Muir Medical Center on Wednesday night after a grinding afternoon crash on Highway 24.
Moraga-Orinda Fire District Division Chief Darrell Lee said the one car crash occurred at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday on eastbound Highway 24 just past the Orinda on-ramps.
The car was traveling at the speed limit when the 59-year-old driver suddenly veered right, Lee said, and slammed into a tree at "freeway speed."
The car caught fire with the driver trapped behind the wheel, prompting a roadside reaction by Good Samaritan drivers who had witnessed the crash.
"The car was crushed at the driver’s compartment and the Good Samaritans were unable to free the driver," Lee reported. "The engine compartment caught on fire and was endangering the driver. Three cars pulled over with small fire extinguishers to help put out the fire. The fire re-ignited and all the extinguishers were empty. A worker in a service truck pulled out his 20-pound fire extinguisher and put out the secondary fire. The driver could have sustained serious burns had it not been for the Good Samaritans.
The unidentified woman driver suffered major injuries and is being treated at John Muir, according to Lee, who issued a special "thank you" on behalf of MOFD.
"Moraga-Orinda Fire District would like to thank all the people that stopped to help put out the fire," Lee said. "Your involvement helped save the driver’s life today."
The cause of Wednesday's accident is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.