Two off-duty crew members from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Halibut based in Marina del Rey came to the rescue of a man who was inside a burning car at the on-ramp of the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405) in Hawthorne early Friday, December 14th.

Coast Guard Fireman Sean Reisner and Seaman Alberto Castilleja were on their way home from an 11-hour patrol aboard the Halibut at about 1:15 a.m. when they saw a car on fire at the Inglewood off-ramp of the 405 Freeway, said Coast Guard spokesman Anthony Turner.

As the men got closer to the car, they noticed that a man was trapped inside the car and that the vehicle’s engine compartment and deck underneath were on fire.

“The man seemed to be incapacitated and couldn’t get out,” said Lt. junior grade Paul Miller, the crew members’ commander.

The two crew members ran to the burning vehicle and pulled the trapped man through the window. While Castilleja carried the victim to safety, Reisner put the fire out with a fire extinguisher he got from a truck driver who had pulled over, Turner said. They stayed with the victim until he was taken to a hospital for treatment. The cause of the accident was under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

“We’re very proud of them and the way they reacted,” Miller said of Reisner and Castilleja. “We’re pleased they were able to help someone out.”

The two crew members have each served with the Coast Guard for about a year. They are stationed on the Halibut, an 87-foot patrol boat docked at the end of Fiji Way in Marina del Rey, that is capable of responding to homeland security, search-and-rescue and marine environmental protection missions.

Turner noted that while Reisner and Castilleja were technically off-duty after working an 11-hour shift, their efforts show that Coast Guard members are always ready to respond to an emergency.

“We’re never off duty,” Turner said.

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