Carnegie Hero reunited with man saved from burning

‘The best day of my life’

Carnegie Hero reunited
Rick Wetzel, left, hugs Phil Blomquist after Blomquist told Wetzel the day he crashed his car and was saved by Wetzel was the “best day of his life.” The pair met on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at a construction site where Wetzel has been working in Springfield, Ore. (Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard via AP)

That’s what Edward P. Blomquist, right, told a reporter from The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., on being reunited with the man who saved him from a burning car.

The man is Frederick Wetzel, 52, a general contractor from Dexter, Ore., shown here embracing Blomquist in late March, shortly after it was announced that he was to receive a Carnegie Medal for his heroic actions.  The men were reunited at a construction site.

Their first meeting was on Nov. 14, 2014.  Blomquist, then 77, was driving a minivan through a rural area near Cottage Grove, Ore., when the vehicle left the roadway, struck a tree, and broke into flames at its front end.  Unconscious, he was slumped over the steering wheel when Wetzel drove upon the scene.  Wetzel made his way to the vehicle, which was tilted toward the driver’s side on an embankment, and struggled to open the driver’s door.  Growing flames by then had reached the dashboard.

Although outweighed by Blomquist, Wetzel grasped him, pulled him from the car, and dragged him a short distance away.  By then, he said later, he was nearly exhausted.  Other motorists who stopped helped take Blomquist to safety.  The minivan was destroyed in the fire.

Wetzel is one of the 24 newest awardees of the medal.

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