All week long, Thomas J. Quinn was haunted by what he and his friends saw on Interstate 280 in the early morning hours of April 22.
The Los Gatos man was driving friends to San Francisco International Airport to catch a flight to Maui. It was about 4:50 a.m. Then they saw it. It was horrific, he told Patch.
As they headed north a still-dark sky, ahead they saw a flash of fire, then smoke. As they approached they saw an SUV appeared to have freshly landed on its side and was afire. He and others stopped and tried to run toward the burning car to see if they could help anyone inside.
The car appeared to have been traveling southbound, he surmised, when it hit the concrete divider and landed in the northbound center side, crashing into tree brush and bursting into flames.
A motorcycle cop pulled up and approached with a flashlight. Then there was an explosion. "He yelled, 'Run!' and we all ran," Quinn said. Reluctantly they went on.
For days after, Quinn hunted for news reports, looked high and low. Who was the poor soul in the horrific accident? He thought of the blown out windows, the But couldn't find anything.
Finally he wrote Los Altos Patch, attaching two photos.
"Question: Can you tell us any information about the accident and how many people died in that vehicle?" he asked. Unsettled and concerned, he wanted to know "who the unfortunate occupants were."
Patch couldn't find any reports, either.
Then came California Highway Patrol Officer Arturo Montiel and Officer Jarrett Tutthill with welcome news.
"Despite the severe appearance, the driver was uninjured," Tutthill wrote.
The vehicle had been driving northbound on I-280 when it crashed and overturned in the center median and then became engulfed in flames, Tutthill confirmed.
"At approximately 4:19 am on 4/22/2012 the driver of the vehicle, for unknown reasons, left the roadway of I-280 northbound, north of El Monte Avenue," Tutthill wrote.
The driver, however, had left the scene, and "was contacted later that afternoon" by Redwood City California Highway Patrol personnel," Tutthill wrote.
And one would be Good Samaritan was relieved.
"It's unbelievable he got away," he said, thinking of the blown out windows and the loneliness of the darkened freeway.
"It makes me feel better."