Frederick J. Puleo helped to rescue Jessica N. Thomas from burning, Eureka, Texas, February 1, 1996. Jessica, 7, was the front-seat passenger of an automobile that was hit head on by another vehicle on an icy bridge. Her seat, pushed forward and down, trapped her in the wreckage. Puleo, 40, power plant supervisor, drove upon the scene shortly and stopped to tend to the victims of the accident. Smoke, then flames issued from the engine area of the wrecked car and spread inside. Another man who had arrived attempted to open the front passenger door, but it was jammed. To help force it open, Puleo entered the car, despite growing smoke and flames in the interior, and, sitting on the floor in the back-seat area, kicked the door while the other man pulled on it from outside. Puleo and the other man used a blanket to shield Jessica from the growing flames and, manipulating the seat to expose her, used a pocketknife to cut her saftey belt, which was still restraining her. The men then removed Jessica from the car, shortly before it was engulfed by flames. Jessica was hospitalized a month for treatment of severe burns to her legs. Puleo received medical treatment for burns to his hands, and he recovered.
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