Curtis R. Patterson rescued Margaret M. Ratliff from burning, Waco, Texas, July 12, 2001. Ms. Ratliff, 31, remained in the driver’s seat of her automobile after an accident in which the car left the roadway and struck a wooden utility pole. The pole broke in two, its top taking down power lines and falling to the ground at the front of the car. Fire broke out in the surrounding field at the scene, with flames approaching the car. Patterson, 37, customer service technician, drove upon the scene and responded to the car. Seeing that Ms. Ratliff was unable to free herself, he returned to his vehicle and retrieved protective gloves. He went to the passenger side of Ms. Ratliff’s car, and, despite not knowing if the car was electrically charged, made contact with it to open the front door. With flames spreading to underneath the vehicle, Patterson entered the car and cut Ms. Ratliff’s safety belt. He then pulled her over the car’s console and passenger seat, then removed her from the car and walked her away. Flames shortly entered the vehicle to consume it. Ms. Ratliff required hospital treatment for a third-degree burn to her left arm and other injuries. She recovered.
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