Andrew L. Melhado rescued Tahjae Robinson and attempted to rescue Nina T. Lewis from burning, Milton, Massachusetts, December 2, 2016.
Tahjae, 17, Lewis, 24, and another man, 23, were trapped inside a sedan that left a highway and struck a tree at night. The car’s front end quickly burst into flames.
Melhado, 49, security manager of Milton, was awakened by the crash in front of his home and saw the car burning from his bedroom window. Quickly dressing, he retrieved a fire extinguisher from his kitchen and ran outside to the burning car.
Unable to assist the 23-year-old man, Melhado broke the windows on both rear doors and felt inside for occupants, as he was unable to see through the thick smoke. Melhado felt Tahjae, who was leaning toward the driver’s-side rear door. Melhado then extended his head, shoulders, and arms inside through the broken-out driver’s-side rear window opening.
Melhado grasped Tahjae’s shirt collar and pulled him partly out of the car through the opening. Adjusting his grip, Melhado, despite nearby flames and intense heat, pulled Tahjae, who appeared to be semi-conscious, out the window opening and set him on the ground.
Melhado then moved to the driver’s door and broke that window with the extinguisher. As the fire at the vehicle’s front intensified, Melhado reached inside and unsuccessfully tried to free Lewis from the car, but his efforts were thwarted by advancing flames, and he was forced to retreat.
Lewis and the 23-year-old man died. Tahjae was treated at a hospital for injuries and recovered.
Melhado sustained burns to his left hand; he, too, recovered.