Citizen comes to rescue after hit-and-run collision

By: Mary Chou Special to the Telegraph
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The last thing Dava Tennant expected, as she went about her daily business Feb. 4, was to be a hero. But at about 3 p.m. she found herself pulling a man out of a burning car and calling for emergency police assistance. I saw the car crash and couldn't believe it, Tennant, 29, said. It was like auto-pilot “ I hopped out of the car to make sure everybody was OK. Joy Snider, 55, was struck from behind in her truck by alleged drunken driver Douglas Burns, 39, of Paradise in his sport vehicle at Russi and Blue Ravine roads. Burns' vehicle was wedged under Snider's truck and caught on fire when Tennant ran over to pull him out of the car. The thing that was frustrating was why he didn't stop at the red light at all, Snider said. It never occurred to me that someone would be drinking in the middle of the day. Tennant said Burns resisted when she first tried to pull him out of the vehicle. But because Burns didn't seem to have a lot of control over his body, she succeeded and walked him to the side of the curb. I just knew that I had to get him out of the car, Tennant said. I didn't know if it was going to blow. I didn't think about me getting hurt by helping him. Burns was slurred in his speech, Tennant said, but demanded she give him some cigarettes. When Tennant informed Burns that she did not smoke, Burns ran into a wooded area off the side of the road. Upon minutes, police arrived and arrested Burns on suspicion of felony hit-and-run. According to police reports, Burns said, My mom is going to kill me. I'm going to go down for this. Snider, who suffered moderate whiplash, a sprained foot and some bruises from the impact, said she did not see Burns coming from behind. My eyes were on the red light waiting for it to turn green, Snider said. It just felt like a train had hit me. According to Lt. Sheldon Sterling of the Folsom Police Department, DUI arrests are up in Folsom and DUI collisions are down. In 2007, the number of DUI collisions decreased by 41 compared to the year prior, while there were 362 DUI arrests, compared to the 252 in 2004. I don't think she would consider it an act of heroism, Sterling said of Tennant. You'd like to think that's what you'd do in a similar situation. However, Snider said of the row of vehicles lined up behind the accident, Tennant was the only one to get out and help. Most people don't want to get involved, but if it's you, you'd sure wish someone would do that for you, Snider said. With Folsom High School just a few blocks away and getting ready to let students out for the day, Tennant said she couldn't imagine what would've happened if Burns crossed the intersection. Thank God Joy (Snider) is OK, Tennant said. But the situation could've been a lot worse if he made it farther down the road. While Snider is scheduled for a chiropractor appointment for a thorough check for her neck and back, she credits her relatively moderate injuries to her fastened seatbelt. The air bag didn't go off because of the way I was hit, Snider said. If I wasn't wearing a seatbelt, my head would've hit the steering wheel. After the incident, Snider and Tennant found that they, coincidentally, are neighbors down the street from one another. I just couldn't believe it “ she was like this angel that helped me, Snider said. We've decided that we'd become good friends.