Carl E. Cupit helped to save Ernest J. Boudreaux from burning, Gulf of Mexico, July 18, 1967. At an oil platform off the Louisiana coast, tanks containing 10,000 barrels of crude oil overflowed, the oil catching fire. Boudreaux, 26, and five other workmen, including Cupit, 23, a college student working as a roustabout, jumped from the burning platform into the water, where oil on the surface was burning with flames 6 to 12 feet high. Boudreaux landed in the flames but swam out of them, suffering severe burns. Cupit was picked up by a boat, from which a raft was thrown to one of the other men. As the boat was leaving, Cupit saw that Boudreaux was still near the flames and in danger of being carried back into them by heavy swells. Taking a life vest with him, Cupit left the boat and swam 35 feet to Boudreaux. Heat was almost unbearable. As Boudreaux clung to the life vest, Cupit attempted to tow him farther away from the flames but was thwarted by the swells. He called for aid from the man with the raft, about 100 feet away. While that man was paddling the raft to Cupit and Boudreaux, the oil tanks collapsed, greatly increasing the flames on the platform. The other man entered the water, tied Boudreaux to the raft, and then attempted to tow it. Although Cupit, in the raft, aided by paddling, they made no progress. Meanwhile, two men from another platform took a helicopter to the scene, where flames were issuing 300 feet high. The pilot set the helicopter down near the raft, which then was within 6 feet of the flames on the water. The swells caused the aircraft to pitch as its passenger moved onto a pontoon. With difficulty, the pilot maneuvered the craft as his passenger worked with Cupit and the other man in lifting Boudreaux onto the pontoon. The pontoon dipped partly beneath the surface, and the pitch threatened to cause the tail rotor to hit the water and disable the helicopter. Moving about to distribute the weight, the men got Boudreaux into the cabin. The pilot then lifted off and headed for shore, the boat having rescued the other workmen. Boudreaux was hospitalized but later died as the result of his burns.
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