Sheriff’s deputy saves woman from burning car in Encinitas


A Honda Civic burns on Manchester Avenue at San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas early Oct. 23. Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Gusman is credited with saving the life of a driver trapped in the car. (San Diego County Sheriff’s Department photo)

North Coast Current

A San Diego County sheriff’s deputy is credited with saving a driver from a burning car early Oct. 23 along Manchester Avenue in Encinitas, authorities said.

Deputy Steve Gusman of the North Coastal Station was driving northbound in the 3300 block of Manchester Avenue in Encinitas at about 1:20 a.m. when he observed what he at first thought was a cloud of fog, according to a Sheriff’s Department report. When Gusman smelled smoke, he turned his vehicle around to investigate.

Gusman stopped and walked toward San Elijo Lagoon on the south side of the Manchester Avenue, where he saw smoke and a red glow coming from underneath a dark-colored Honda Civic that had crashed, the Sheriff’s Department reported. He heard a female voice coming from inside the car, authorities said.

The deputy found the driver, a 54-year-old woman who appeared to be in shock, and pulled her out of the car. Gusman carried the woman over his shoulder up the embankment to safety shortly before the car was engulfed in flames, the Sheriff’s Department stated. The woman was the sole occupant of the car.

“If not for the actions of Deputy Gusman, the occupant would have been severely injured or perished at the scene,” the Sheriff’s Department said in its statement.

Gusman was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene by paramedics, authorities said. The woman was reportedly uninjured.

The woman was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and taken to the Vista Detention Facility, the Sheriff’s Department stated.