August F. Brenner helped to rescue David A. Watchous and Stephen K. Kemp from burning, Clifton, Kansas, September 5, 1992. Watchous, 18, was the passenger in an automobile driven by Kemp, 19, that left the roadway, entered a grassy ditch, struck a culvert, and started to burn. An approaching motorist, Brenner, 46, computer consultant, stopped at the scene and attempted to open the driver’s door of the burning car, but it was jammed. Although his mobility was somewhat affected by poliomyelitis, Brenner, dressed only in swimming trunks, then positioned himself on the ground next to the passenger side of the car and, bracing himself against it, reached through the open window and seized Watchous. As Kemp aided from inside the car, Brenner pulled Watchous out. Returning to the window, Brenner again reached into the car, despite flames spreading to its interior. With Brenner and Kemp, who was aflame, holding each other’s arms, Brenner pulled Kemp from the car, the seats of which soon caught fire. Others arriving by then took Watchous and Kemp farther away from the car. Watchous and Kemp both required hospital treatment for severe injuries, Kemp’s including burns to his legs.
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August Frederick “Fred” Brenner, 72, died on Feb. 6, 2019, after a brief struggle with an inoperable brain tumor. He was born on July 24, 1946, to Doris and Arnold Brenner.
Brenner grew up in Kansas City, Miss., and lived much of his life in California. He grew into an accomplished man, participating in the 1979 and 1980 National Handicapped Ski Championship and becoming a successful systems analyst and entrepreneur.
In 1993, he received a Carnegie Medal for his 1992 actions to pull two men from a burning car, saving their lives. Brenner donated the associated cash award to a camp for special needs children.
(Edited from an obituary published in The Daily Journal in San Mateo, Calif.)