Elmer C. Seltz helped to save Daniel A. Rentschler, John Y. Brightman, and Joseph T. Callahan from explosion and burning, Bay City, Michigan, September 16, 1990. Rentschler, 28; Brightman, 32, and Callahan, 46, were crewmembers of a tank ship that was docked at a fuel terminal pier on the Saginaw River. As the ship was discharging its load of 1.8 million gallons of unleaded gasoline, its stern broke free of its mooring and swung into the river, causing gasoline to spill on the ship’s deck and the pier. Fire broke out and spread to the deck, followed shortly by a massive explosion in the ship’s remaining cargo. The 18-member crew abandoned the vessel, Rentschler swimming 150 feet to a breakwater, where he lay, exhausted. Having witnessed the explosion from the pier, Seltz, 58, terminal operator, saw Rentschler atop the breakwater, which was about 200 feet from the bank. Heand another employee of the terminal immediately boarded a 16-foot boat moored at the pier and took it to the breakwater to rescue Rentschler. As explosions on the ship continued, threatening to breach its hull and release burning gasoline into the river, Seltz and the other man took their boat alongside the ship, which was burning intensely, to its stern, where they pulled Brightman and Callahan from the water. They then went to shore, where the three crewmembers were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries, from which they recovered.
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