Spirit of Courage Award: Christian Lara
California Highway Patrol Officer Christian Lara and his partner were driving along I-8 on November 30. By chance they took a different patrol route along the freeway that night. Near the Hotel Circle area, they saw debris and fire coming from an overpass directly above them. They immediately turned around and came upon a car that had somehow wrecked through a construction zone, with the car’s driver’s side tire hanging up and over a concrete construction barrier – at the edge of the highway overpass.
After discovering the driver was still in the car, they were unable to reach the driver’s side due to the precarious position of the car. Officer Lara broke both windows on the passenger side with his PR-24 baton and discovered the driver was indeed still in the car. Reaching through the passenger side, the driver told him his ankles were broken, so the driver couldn’t assist Officer Lara in helping him safely exit the burning car.
As soon as Officer Lara was able to miraculously pull the driver through the passenger side of the car, he pulled the driver to a safe distance just as the car became fully engulfed in flames. Officer Lara was able to remove the driver without altering the delicate balance of the car’s dangerous position hanging over the construction barrier on the freeway overpass.