Brian Cali had a pretty good week last month. Only a few days after marrying his girlfriend, Alicia, on April 17, Cali was in Sacramento receiving the State of California Governor’s Medal of Valor award.
“It was pretty much the best week of my life,” beamed the seasonal CalFire firefighter as he sat in the Chino station. “I honestly had pretty much forgotten about it so it was a really big shock when I got the call from Sacramento.”
On Aug. 13, 2012 Cali was driving along Highway 79 in San Diego County toward Temecula after finishing up a long shift battling the Vallecito Fire when he rounded a corner and came across a rolled over vehicle.
“I saw a female standing there with a cell phone and I asked her if she was with the vehicle,” he said. “I was really hoping she was and that there was no one inside.”
Unfortunately, the woman told Cali it was not her car and that she had stopped to call 9-1-1 after watching the car lose control and roll down the highway embankment.
“It had just started catching fire,” he said, recalling the events of that night.
As Cali, who lives in San Clemente, began to search for a way to get to the man inside, he noticed several motorists stopping to help.
He grabbed a log from the side of the road and broke out two windows but he said he still couldn’t get to the man inside who did not appear to be conscious.
He and about four other good Samaritans then made the decision to push the car back onto its wheels.
“At this point, the engine compartment was starting to burn through into the cab and the patient’s legs were starting to burn,” he said.
That’s when Cali, with no protective gear, reached inside, wrapped his arms around the man and tried to yank him through the window, but that didn’t work.
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