Earl L. Zimmerman, 23, radio performance tester, rescued Richard L. Goodman, 39, truck driver, from burning, Williamsville, New York, March 15, 1951. At night a trailer-truck driven by Goodman struck a utility pole, and Goodman was thrown unconscious to the floor of the cab. A tank alongside the cab containing 40 gallons of gasoline was ruptured and smashed; and gasoline was showered into the cab, drenching Goodman’s clothing. Dense smoke appeared at the tank. Zimmerman alighted from an automobile, ran 30 feet to the truck at the side opposite the damaged tank, and jumped onto the runningboard. Opening with difficulty a partly jammed door, he reached into the cab and took hold of Goodman at the shoulders. Gasoline flowing from the ruptured tank was ignited. Flames rose 10 feet at the side of the cab and enveloped the adjacent roadway. As Zimmerman lifted Goodman from the floor, a 30 gallon gasoline tank beneath the cab seat exploded with a loud concussion. Zimmerman was stunned but retained his hold on Goodman. The clothing of both men was ignited. Zimmerman pulled Goodman to the runningboard. In the street flames 10 feet high extended 10 feet from the runningboard, and heat was blistering. Supporting Goodman, Zimmerman jumped from the truck. He landed amidst flames, sustained a dislocated ankle, and fell to the street beneath Goodman. Zimmerman’s trousers were burned away to the knees. Rolling from beneath Goodman, he crawled beyond the flames. Reviving, Goodman crawled to near the outer edge of the burning area and was aided from the flames by others. Goodman suffered severe burns and died nine hours later. Zimmerman sustained first- and second-degree burns of the hands, arms, and face, and third-degree leg burns. He was hospitalized four months. 42232-3739
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Earl L. “Bud” Zimmerman, 87, of Williamsville, N.Y., died on Feb. 26, 2016.
Zimmerman followed three brothers into the military, serving in the Marines in China at the age of 17 during World War II. He attended Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., and owned a business in Williamsville for many years.
In January 1952, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission awarded Zimmerman the Carnegie Medal for rescuing a man from a burning truck on March 15, 1951. The American Legion also gave him an award for his outstanding heroism.
He was buried at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Buffalo.
(Edited from an obituary provided by the family.)