PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Richard Brewster was heading northbound on the Suncoast Parkway in Pasco County as he neared the State Road 52 overpass. It was about 12:20 a.m. on the morning of Dec 29. That’s when he witnesses a horrific crash.
“As we were coming up the embankment all you see was just the implosion of all the steam, sparks, lights,” Brewster said. “I immediately ran over there and checked to see if she had a pulse.”
According to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol, 30-year-old Ricca Soto was driving southbound in the northbound lanes when she slammed head-on into another car. The Infinity she was driving burst into flames. The driver in the other car was also injured.
“Everybody was like, ‘it’s on fire, back up, start moving,’ and I’m like, ‘no, she’s in here, come help me,'” Brewster said. “It seemed like I ran around that car a million times trying to get her out and then the other lady was on the phone with 911. “
Brewster said Pasco deputies arrived a few minutes later.
“The first officer showed up, he comes running up and said ‘is there somebody in there?’ I said ‘yah, but I can’t get her out.'”
The sheriff’s office released dramatic body camera video of the first responders first using their fire extinguishers to put out the flames. When that didn’t work, they used brute force to get Soto out of the car.
After a few minutes, deputies were successful and paramedics rushed Soto to a local hospital for treatment. Brewster believes if they had arrived any later, Soto would not have made it.
“As soon as they got her out, and away from the car, it literally went up, was engulfed in flames,” Brewster said. “It was seconds.”
Soto’s stepdaughter says her stepmother is still recovering at a local hospital and is thankful for Pasco’s finest.
“I’m really glad that the deputies were there,” Elizabeth Soto said. “It’s really challenging to watch that video and know it’s somebody close to me.”