Donnie S. Dirden rescued Victoria P. Heether and Robin C. Goldstein from burning, Carbondale, Illinois, September 1, 1996. Ms. Heether and Ms. Goldstein, both 20, remained inside a car that, at night, had left the roadway and struck a concrete abutment. Flames broke out in the car’s engine area and spread to its interior. Approaching in another vehicle, Dirden, 28, and his wife discovered the accident. While his wife went to alert help, Dirden opened the burning car’s right front door. He attempted to remove Ms. Heether but found that her leg was trapped in the wreckage. Dirden went to the driver’s side of the car, opened the rear door, and entered. He manipulated the driver’s seat in an attempt to dislodge Ms. Heether, then exited the car and returned to the passenger side. Reaching inside, he released both women from their seat belts and eased them to the ground, then dragged them away just before the car was almost engulfed by flames. Dirden’s wife and others arrived and moved the women farther away. Ms. Heether and Ms. Goldstein both required hospitalization for treatment of burns and other injuries. Dirden was treated at the hospital for first- and second-degree burns to his hands, from which he recovered.
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