Hero Receives Award for Prying Open a Burning Vehicle and Saving the Lives of Five Local People Trapped Inside

Flames engulf two vehicles and their drivers

Flames engulf two vehicles and their drivers after a head-on crash last May. [Photo by Tracy Spears]

First, you need to meet 8-year-old Jacob Clifford and then you need to meet the man that pulled him and four other people out of a burning vehicle. Last May, Jacob was headed south to Disneyland with the Delgado family of Eureka (many of whom worked at Rita’s, a popular local restaurant) when an old Ford Bronco crossed over the yellow line and slammed headfirst into the Delgado family’s pickup.

Jacob Clifford [All photos by Kym Kemp unless otherwise noted]

Now, you need to meet Nicholas Anderson and his girlfriend, Tracy Sparks. They had been driving north to go camping with friends when they were unable to get gas in Laytonville and had to turn around and head back to Willits in order to fill their tank.

To the rear are two CHP officers. On the left is Jacob’s mom, Samantha Cagle, next is Tracy Spears, then Jacob Clifford, and last, Nicholas Anderson who pulled out Jacob from the vehicle, at the award ceremony yesterday.


They were the first ones at the wreck. Both hurried to the vehicle. Anderson said he could see flames in the front of the vehicle. He tried to open the door but couldn’t. Another passing motorist helped him pry it open. “His little legs…” Anderson said speaking about Jacob. “I almost couldn’t get them out because the seats were so smashed.”

However, he was able to pull out the boy from the vehicle and handed the him to Spears who took him back to their car. They were right on the road, she said and she wanted to get Jacob to safety.

Then he and the other motorist rescued a one-year-old girl, Natalie Grace Delgado. “He took the little girl back to his car,” Anderson said.

Next, he helped Gil, age 24, and Anajelica, age 19, out of the vehicle. He said at this points the flames were getting bad. He tried to get Roasa Delgado, the mother, out of the truck, but he said, “She didn’t want to leave [her husband.]” But Anderson said he could tell that Gilberto Delgado had died already. He persuaded her to leave with him before the pickup was completely covered in flames.

The drivers of both vehicles died in the crash. All three of the adults Anderson rescued had major injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Back row from left to right: Officer J. Taylor; Officer R. Fowler; Officer M. Pina; Acting Sergeant J. Scott; Lt. Randy England; Sergeant B. Arendt; Officer K. Hayslett; Officer D. Simmons; Officer K. Will. Front row from left to right: Trinity, a niece of Samantha Cagle, Daniel, brother to Jacob, Samantha Cagle, Tracy Spears, Jacob Clifford, and Nicholas Anderson at yesterday’s award ceremony.


Yesterday, the CHP awarded Nicholas Anderson a certificate of recognition. In part, it says, “Without regard for your own safety, you quickly entered the burning vehicle and removed all five passengers to a safe location before it was fully engulfed with fire. Mr. Anderson, there is no doubt that because of your brave and heroic actions, five people are alive today.”

Nicholas Anderson told us he was just doing what was needed. “We’re all supposed to help each other,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Earlier Chapters: 



  • Thank God for Angels like you Mr. Anderson. Jacob will never forget you, nor the rest of his family. Are you sure you don’t have wings?

  • This is a great story and news. !!!

  • I like hearing when people basically act and behave in ways that are good. I think we are all pretty much that way.

    Nicholas and Tracy are exactly that. But they went further, taking it to the next level.
    Thank you, each of you. If not for you, then who?

    I’m so sorry for the Delgaldo family. I’m glad the kids, young adults, and their mother were saved.

  • Muddy Black Dodge

    Great job.

  • Wow great article, the couple having to turn back to get gas makes it seem there really are few to no coincidences. Five minutes more it sounds like the story would have had a different ending.
    Thank you to the Andersons for being so brave and reminding us of the strength we have within. Im sure the psychological impact has been intense and hopefully being with the boy you rescued can help.
    Blessings and thanks to you.

  • So awesome to see that there are heroes still left in the world

  • think about it, no tools ,no fire gear, just people need help now !
    Thank you Nick and Tracy…….

  • True Hero…. did the other person helping want to remain anonymous?

  • ….Nicholas Anderson told us he was just doing what was needed.

    “We’re all supposed to help each other,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”

    Right on, sir, right on.

  • How vert commendable of him and his girlfriend!

  • 💖🙏💖

  • Awesome! Can’t come up with the words……….

  • No illegals in that family? No mention of it. Or anchor babies. Very PC.

    • Not until YOU!

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      I guess we were all too overwhelmed by the humanity and bravery of the situation to worry about plugging people in to the Trump-Human-Being-Grader. Sorry. Hey, was anybody homosexual? You think?! Were they short? Over-weight? Did they come from a s-hole country like Germany was when the Trump family arrived in America? Like Ireland when the O’Bannons arrived? So much to worry about, how do you go on?

    • what kind of questions are those? rude. nick and tracy are angles and savoirs

    • How do you not delete this but you can’t say wook?

      • These are the guidelines for commenters on my site:
        1. Civility is valued by the moderator.
        2. Insulting other commenters will get you deleted. Do it too often and you will get banned.
        3. No slurs–racial, ethnic, gender, political etc.
        4. Try to add value to the website by offering information, art, humor or, most of all, thoughtful discussion.
        5. Free speech is valued by the moderator and sometimes that trumps civility but don’t push it.
        6. Also, grammar, punctuation, spelling criticisms should come from parents, teachers, and bosses not anonymous people on the internet. If you can understand what someone says, refrain from telling them how to edit their comments. The one exception to this is me. If I make an error, politely pointing it out is fine.
        7. Punch up. Mocking people in positions of authority is acceptable, sometimes even helpful. Mocking children, the disabled, those suffering from misfortunate, those in a minority who don’t have power is something a bully does.
        8. Don’t threaten or encourage violence.

        Rule number 5 barely applied here. I also put Stormy on the Moderate list in my software. If it works correctly, which it sometimes doesn’t, Stormy may comment now but no one may read it until I check it out to make sure he hasn’t gone over the line.

        Wook violates #3.

  • BRAVO to Tracy and especially Nicholas for their courage & big hearts.
    Kudos to Lost Croat Outburst for his/her humor.
    Mud to Stormy for his/her small heart. Might want to change that.
    This article is about courage and big love.

  • Love you Nick and Tracy. You are among the most awesome people I know.

  • Beautiful. Thank you!

  • Awesome, now if we could just get the chp’s to smile!

  • FTP. And all incarnations.. the badges never help. There was a fire above our house on the highway grass spreading quick and a chp and two state parks pulled up. When asked if they could help they stood there with arms crossed and said verbatim “it’s not our job”. Another time I ran over a fallen rock and waited five hours for chp to bring me help, like a tire iron. Before helping me they shook me down. And tried to search my vehicle then snickered and watched as I changed the tire myself. Protect and serve. Nope. You can’t only trust that you’ll run into real humans along the way, like these two. I don’t understand why chp are even in the photo.

    • CHP are in the photo because they are giving the award. I don’t want to speak for them but I took it as a sign of respect for Nicholas. They looked like an honor guard.

      Also, I’m sure there are jerks in all jobs. But just one example of a fine human being in both those jobs is Brian Anderson who was both a CHP and a volunteer fireman. He has retired as a CHP but he still is Redway’s fire chief. He works hard as a volunteer to not only get training and raise money for the firehouse but then he gets up in the middle of the night to stop homes from burning down and pull people out of terrible accidents.

  • Fantastic news. What a hero!

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