Gray Wheeler, Jr., rescued Adam J. Balousek from burning, New Bern, North Carolina, February 15, 1988. Adam, 4, lay unconscious in the hall of his family’s house after fire broke out in the kitchen at night and spread. A next-door neighbor, Wheeler, 61, retired, was alerted and ran to the scene. He immediately entered the house and began to crawl through a hall toward Adam’s bedroom, having to pass the kitchen en route. Since the floor was hot, Wheeler used a throw rug as he inched through the hall, beneath flames feeding on the hall ceiling. Several feet into the house, Wheeler found Adam lying on the hall floor; he picked him up and crawled backward to the front door, then exited the house with him and revived him. Adam was hospitalized three weeks for second- and third-degree burns that required skin grafting. Wheeler recovered from minor burns to his fingers.
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