NORTH FORK – An early morning crash near North Fork on Friday sent a Wishon woman to the hospital after her car caught fire.
Just before 5 a.m., Carolyn Pinion, 60, was westbound on Road 223 in the curves approaching Road 420 when, for unknown reasons, she traveled off the right side of the roadway and hit the embankment.
Her 2005 Ford Escape then veered back across both lanes and off the embankment on the opposite side of the road, striking a tree and coming to rest against a large boulder.
Cal Fire Engine 4254 from the Bass Lake Station arrived within minutes to find the vehicle fully engulfed, and set to work extinguishing the fire, which had also spread into the surrounding vegetation.
Firefighters didn’t know if anyone was still in the vehicle until they had doused the flames, and then found the unconscious woman pinned behind the wheel.
They were able to extract the driver without having to use the Jaws of Life, and she was transported by Sierra Ambulance to the nearby Cal Fire Station and airlifted by SkyLife helicopter to Community Regional Medical Center with major injuries. She was still unconscious when she was placed in the ambulance.
Amazingly, the driver did not appear to have any burns, which could be attibuted to the angle of the SUV as it came to rest, with the driver’s side the lowest point, and the flame and smoke rising away from her.
In addition to Cal Fire Engine 4254, Engine 4275 also responded out of the Rancheria Station, along with Engine 4255, whose crew set up the landing zone for the SkyLife air ambulance.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.