A father and son are being called angels after they jumped into action and pulled out the children from the burning van. In a bittersweet moment on Monday, the rescuers met the children they saved but unfortunately their parents did not make it out alive.
"They were great parents, they did everything they could to provide for their kids to have the best for them," said Lupita Lopez. Her 20-year-old sister, Rosa Lopez and boyfriend Paul Rosales were killed after their van collided with another vehicle on Del Rey and North Avenue in Fresno County. Miraculously, the couple's children made it out safely thanks to some fast-thinking bystanders.
"So see them out here playing is a blessing. It's a true blessing," said James Bennett of Sanger. James Bennett and his son, Brock Bennett - who was in town visiting on military leave from Fort Bliss, TX - came upon the scene of a fiery crash Saturday night and immediately jumped into action.
"Natural reaction takes over and you go in there, you see babies - anybody in a car accident but babies especially - you react, and we did, and thank god we did as quickly as we did," said Brock Bennett. Brock was able to pull 11-month-old Alinna Rose from her car seat without any trouble. But one-year-old Paul Messiah was pinned behind the other car seat.
"I couldn't get the buckles undone so I had a pocket knife with me, I just pulled it out and cut all the belts and pulled him out," said James. "And seconds after we got the little boy out, the van burst into flames."
It was too late to save the children's parents but family members are thankful the little ones' were rescued. "I still don't believe it. For me it's still a nightmare," said Lopez.
The children will now be cared for by their grandparents but they're too young to understand what happened. "I guess it will probably be a little bit harder when they get to know or start asking for them. That's when it's going to be hard and for us to let them know," said Lopez.
As for the strangers who rescued the children, they've been asked to be the kids' godparents and have accepted. The family has set up an account with Bank of the West to raise funds for funeral costs and they plan to hold a car wash on Saturday.