Donald R. Gollwitzer rescued Paul G. Hockerman from burning, Franklin Park, Illinois, July 31, 2005. Following a highway accident involving a pickup truck and the van in which he was a passenger, Paul, 11, remained in his seat, unconscious and secured by his safety belt. The van’s fuel tank had ruptured in the collision, and flames that immediately erupted virtually engulfed the vehicle and entered its interior. A motorist nearby, Gollwitzer, 50, foreman, witnessed the accident. Abandoning his vehicle, he ran to the van, where he saw Paul lying against a door on the passenger side. Unable to open that door, Gollwitzer broke out its window with his fist, then reached inside and unlatched and opened it. Despite rapidly spreading flames and intense heat, Gollwitzer extended his upper body inside the van and released Paul’s safety belt. He then lifted Paul from the vehicle and took him a safe distance away. Paul was hospitalized for three days for treatment of burns, and he recovered. Gollwitzer suffered a burn to his right hand, and he too recovered. Two other children in the van died at the scene.
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