No good deed goes unpunished, as one Northern California man recently learned the hard way. According to reports, he was tied up, doused in gasoline, and lit on fire after he stopped to help a woman he thought was stranded on the side of the road.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on Wednesday, an unnamed 33-year-old man was driving along near the intersection of Hutchinson Road and South George Washington Boulevard, a rather rural area just outside Yuba City, about 40 miles north of Sacramento, when he spotted a woman standing near a black SUV on the side of the road. She flagged the man down, indicating that she was in some kind of distress.
The man pulled over and exited his vehicle to see how he could help. However, once he left his vehicle, two seemingly armed men jumped out of the woman’s SUV. One appeared to have a gun, the other had a knife. Under threat of violence, they zip-tied the driver’s legs together and stole his wallet and car keys. The three con artists then poured gasoline all over the victim and lit him on fire before they left, driving away in their own SUV and taking the victim’s car too.
The man, now left stranded himself, managed to extinguish the flames by rolling around on the ground. He also called 911, though it is unclear whether he used his cell phone to do so. Deputies from the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office met the man near the intersection but quickly transported him to a nearby hospital for burn treatment. His present condition is unknown, but he is presumed to be recovering from his injuries.
Police found the victim’s vehicle a few miles from the intersection where the three suspects ambushed him. Police also found a fake gun discarded in the area. The victim was not able to get a good look at his attackers, but did “perceive” them to be of Middle Eastern descent.
The incident is still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 530-822-2310.
Local residents told KTXL-TV that people regularly stop to help one another on the side of the road in that area, and they insisted that the area is safe in general. However, the Post Millennial noted that some areas of Northern California have some of the highest crime rates in the entire country and that Tehama County even had to suspend daytime police patrols due to “catastrophic staffing shortages.”