Deputies rescue driver from burning vehicle

Lassen County Sheriff’s deputies rescued a Reno, Nevada man from a speeding burning vehicle after he crashed it — and then they took him into custody.

“The deputies did an extraordinary job in keeping each other safe, protecting our community, as well as rescuing and providing care for the suspect,” said Dean Growdon, Lassen County Sheriff. “This event is just one example of the great work done by the peace officers in our community.”

Here’s how it happened.

According to a statement from the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office, a Lassen County deputy sheriff was traveling westbound on Highway 36 in the Mountain Meadows area, east of the Goodrich Creek Bridge Wednesday, July 15 when he observed a vehicle traveling in the eastbound lane toward the deputy’s patrol vehicle.

The operator of the vehicle turned off the vehicle headlights and continued in the eastbound lane. The driver turned his headlights back on when he was about 150 feet from the patrol vehicle. The deputy turned on his overhead emergency lights and was forced to leave the roadway to avoid collision. Knowing that there was a one-lane section of highway west of the event, the deputy warned another deputy traveling the same direction. The second deputy was able to stop before the single lane section and observed the westbound vehicle traveling through the 45 miles-per-hour construction zone at a high rate of speed.

The vehicle failed to yield to lights and sirens and continued westbound on Highway 36 reaching speeds up to 125 MPH.

Before reaching the Plumas County line, the driver in the vehicle failed to negotiate a sweeping right-hand turn. The vehicle left the roadway and rolled. The vehicle came to a rest on the passenger side, on the westbound lane of Highway 36. The car was severely damaged and on fire.

Deputies utilized fire extinguishers to control the fire, broke out the moon roof of the vehicle, cut the driver’s seat belt and removed him from the vehicle. The subject was moved to a safe location and fire and medical units were requested. The California Highway Patrol also responded to the scene to investigate the vehicle crash.

The driver, Dane Knutson, 36, of Reno, Nevada, was cleared by medical staff on scene then booked into the Lassen County Jail on charges including evading a peace officer with wanton disregard for public safety and reckless driving. His bail was set at $30,000.