Two Los Angeles police officers who pulled two children from a blazing SUV on a Porter Ranch highway say they regret being unable to save the children’s mother.
“There’s guilt and remorse,” Officer Cody McCarthy told KNBC. “It’s hard to swallow sometimes.”
Zeomara Cohen, a 31-year-old mother of three, died in the fiery solo crash on Highway 118 at 11:42 p.m. June 9, KABC reported.
David Cohen, 31, who was driving the Lexus SUV when it hit a concrete sewer drain, faces drunken driving charges, KTLA reported.
McCarthy and Officer Nick Chacon happened to be driving past when they saw the crash and rushed to help, KNBC reported. Chacon called it a matter of seconds.
The collision ruptured the SUV’s fuel line, which caught fire, KTLA reported.
David Cohen and a 9-year-old girl escaped the flames, but Zeomara Cohen and two children, ages 4 and 4 months, were trapped inside, according to the station.
“We had to prioritize who was most important, who was most at risk,” Chacon told KNBC. “And we knew that the kids had to come out first.”
As they worked to pull the two children out, “more and more heat, more and more smoke” drove them back, McCarthy told the station..
“I could feel my shoes melting,” Chacon told KNBC. “I could feel them sticking on the pavement.”
The officers were unable to free Zeomara Cohen from the SUV before flames engulfed the wreck, KABC reported. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The children were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, KTLA reported.
The crash closed the highway for hours and resulted in a second collision as passing motorists slowed down, KCBS reported.
Two people were injured in the second collision but are expected to survive, the station said.
The California Highway Patrol asks that anyone with information call 818-888-0980.