Four people were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after their work van caught fire on westbound Interstate 30 in Grand Prairie Friday morning. Three of the victims have since been released. Their ages range from seventeen to nineteen, according to police.
"That car is going in flames right now, oh my god,” said a caller to 911 dispatch.
While worried drivers reported the inferno on I-30 westbound near MacArthur Boulevard, an Arlington police officer raced toward the scene.
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“Two guys were climbing out of there to get away from the van. As they were doing that, there were actual flames coming from the engine block of the van, so fire had already started,” said Sgt. Michael Chitty.
Sgt. Chitty was on his way to work around 5 a.m. when he saw an erratic driver crash into a barrier, then a van.
“The van windows I heard start breaking,” he said.
As the four teenage boys crawled out through broken glass, he helped them to safety.
“One of the gentleman was in serious pain so I put my arms under his armpits and carried him further away to help get him away from the van which was engulfed in a matter of moments,” Sgt. Chitty said.
Meanwhile, he said the suspected drunk driver accused of hitting them, Jesus Gutierrez, ran off.
Grand Prairie officer Jason Sloan picks up the story from there.
“I could smell alcohol coming from him,” Ofc. Sloan said, after a tip led him to Dallas.
The Trinity River Authority reported a man acting suspicious near the water. The description matched the suspect they were after.
“Guy looked a little worse for wear, he was wet, scratched up,” Ofc. Sloan said.
He said 23-year-old Gutierrez was shirtless, wearing a work vest, claiming he was injured in a work-related accident the day before.
“But his scratches were very, very fresh,” Sloan said.
Gutierrez now faces several charges for drugs, public intoxication, hit and run, and failing to stop and render aid. His bond was set at $135,000.
Sgt. Chitty wasn't the only officer from an outside agency involved. An Irving officer also happened upon the crash scene and lent a hand coordinating, directing paramedics to the injured victims.