An off-duty sheriff's lieutenant, his wife and a good Samaritan helped rescue a kitten after he ran through traffic on the 60 Freeway in the Diamond Bar area and then got stuck in the engine compartment of a stopped vehicle, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday.
Lt. Min Dinh, a 31-year veteran of the department, and his wife, retired sheriff's Lt. Jenny Ha, were driving home from church on the westbound 60 near the Grand Avenue exit on Sunday when they saw a woman sitting on a blanket in the emergency lane. The couple pulled over to help with what they thought was a disabled vehicle, Dinh said.
But the woman, Cathy Chang, told them that she saw a kitten running across the freeway and immediately stopped her vehicle.
Dramatic dash camera video from Chang's car released by the Sheriff's Department on Facebook showed the feline narrowly avoid getting struck as he darted across the freeway.
After navigating safely to the right shoulder, the cat ran under Chang's car and into the engine, she said.
Although unable to find the male kitten, she could hear him meowing from the engine compartment.
In an effort to lure him out, Chang -- a volunteer at an animal rescue in Montclair -- opened a can of cat food that was in her vehicle at the time. But that didn't work, she explained.
Ha said she was "taken aback, because that’s not something that happens every day."
After listening to the woman's story, the couple immediately began looking for the kitten. Their frantic efforts proved successful when, just minutes later, the lieutenant spotted some light brown fur sticking out between the slats of the front grill.
"We knew we had to actually do something then," Ha recalled. "We were committed."
The kitten apparently became trapped when he somehow managed to wedge himself into an inaccessible area of the engine compartment.
Once he located the cat, Dinh -- who describes himself as a "weekend mechanic" -- unscrewed the panel connecting the undercarriage and bumper, reached behind the grill and saved him.
Ontario Rescue in Montclair picked up the rescued kitten a short time later. He was taken to their facility for safekeeping.
"Needless to say, the rescuers were totally ecstatic," the sheriff's release read. "Their hearts were filled with joy and amazement at how this little kitten could cross several lanes of traffic and survive. Fortune was smiling on this furry friend to be placed in the path of these animal lovers; an animal rescue volunteer, an off-duty first responder, and a retired Lieutenant."
Ha described the experience as "beautiful" and said it was "like winning the lotto."
It was still unclear how the cat managed to get onto the freeway and whether he had an owner, but he was apparently not microchipped because he's not up for adoption. The shelter says he is 6 to 8 weeks old and healthy.
Those interested in adoption can contact The Ontario Rescue at 909-267-9715.