Carnegie Hero Robert Lee ThorntonCarnegie Hero Robert Lee Thornton, Jr., holds the Carnegie Medal on June 28, 2018, after a presentation at Center Line (Mich.) City Hall. Presenting the award, from left, were Center Line police officer Andrew Percha, police Director Paul Myszenski, and Carnegie Hero Fund President Eric P. Zahren. In November 2016, Thornton, of Warren, Mich., rescued a 77-year-old woman from a pickup truck that had collided with a power pole carrying high-voltage lines, rolled onto its passenger side and caught fire in Center Line. Thornton stopped at the scene where downed power lines near the front end of the truck arced. Seeing a man inside the truck and quickly surmising that it was not energized, Thornton climbed atop its driver’s side and moved to the driver’s window. As the man pushed the female passenger up to the window, Thornton extended his upper body inside, grasped her, pulled her through the opening, and handed her down to two police officers. Despite spreading flames, Thornton again reached inside the opening to briefly grasp the man, but the man disengaged as flames entered the truck’s cab. As a transformer on the power pole exploded, Thornton retreated to safety and flames soon engulfed the truck.


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