Driver meets woman who pulled him from his burning car after he crashed in the Kern River Canyon

Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 12:56:32-04

It's been nearly a month since Joseph Simmons, 31, crashed his car in at the mouth of the canyon.

Since then, he has been at Kern Medical. He spent two weeks in the intensive care unit before being moved to the lower level patient area. 

But, he may have never made it to the hospital if it wasn't for two strangers who helped pull him out moments before his car was completely engulfed in flames. 

RELATED: Major injury crash at the mouth of the canyon

Gale Simmons, Joseph's grandfather, was at Kern Medical today and met the woman who helped pull Joseph out, Sharon Vise. 

The two recounted the morning of the crash and the days that followed, before Gale Simmons took a moment to thank Vise for her help. 

"“There’s no way to repay you," Gale said. "We’re so thankful that you were there at that moment to help get him out.”

Vise quickly insists she wasn't the only one, a mystery man also helped pull Joseph out of the burning car, but no one has been able to track him down. 

Vise said she hopes he will reach out, so that he can also be recognized for his courage. 

Vise went up to Joseph's hospital room, their reunion, they chose to keep private. However, Joseph was in good spirits and decided to meet 23ABC outside. 

His injuries were still visible, he suffered a lacerated liver, broken ribs, a broken sternum, head trauma, multiple fractures to his right arm, two puncture wounds one to his left thigh, one to his left knee and has since undergone two surgeries. 

Joseph, an avid kayaker, said the morning of his crash he was headed up the Kern River to go kayaking, but he has no memory of the crash.

According to Bakersfield Police speed was a factor in the crash, but Joseph said he has driven the canyon many times and never went faster than a few miles over the speed limit. 

Now, he said he's thankful to be alive. 


"I only had a couple seconds left before my life was over, so I’m pretty thankful that I had some people coming out of the canyon at the same time or else I might not be here talking today."

Joseph has been in the hospital for 21 days and is expected to get out and start rehabilitation soon. He said he's eager to get back to regular life again. 

“I want to start work up back as soon as possible and hope to hit the outdoors as soon as possible too, you know, get back in my kayak and start playing around on the river.”

Joseph is struggling with medical bills because he did not have health insurance and his car insurance was up one day before his crash.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page which you can donate to here.

The family also set up an account at Kern Schools Federal Credit Union under "Joseph A. Simmons Relief Fund."

People can make checks payable to "KSFCU Acct# 82465-1. Checks can be deposited directly at Kern Schools or mailed to Joseph at P.O. Box 12881, Bakersfield, CA 93389.