James W. Stuettgen rescued Francesca L. Smith and four others from burning, Santa Ana, California, October 13, 1963. At night a four-door sedan containing Mrs. Smith, 43, and four other persons was struck from behind by another vehicle, injuring all passengers. Gasoline leaking from the sedan’s ruptured tank caught fire, and flames spread over the automobile as it scraped an utility pole, knocked down a palm tree, and stopped astride the curb. Flames entered the vehicle, and all occupants sustained burns. Stuettgen, 35, design draftsman, ran from his home nearby to the sedan, the right doors of which were ajar. The top was covered with flames rising as much as 10 feet into the air, and gasoline burned beneath it. Heat was intense. Stuettgen reached into the rear compartment and, crouching beneath flames on the ceiling, pulled Mrs. Smith from the automobile. After putting out flames on her hair by rolling her on the dewy lawn, Stuettgen made two more trips to the sedan’s rear compartment. Crouching beneath the overhead flames each time, he removed Eric K. Kelley, 2, and his brother, Kim R. Kelley, 5. Leaving the boys on the lawn, Stuettgen ran to the right front door, aided Mrs. Carrie A. Jones out of the sedan, and assisted her to the others. He ran back to the automobile, placed one foot inside the front compartment, and pulled Jose A. Azcarate from behind the steering wheel. Backing out, Stuettgen drew Azcarate after him and aided him away from the sedan. Mrs. Smith and the others were hospitalized for injuries and burns. Stuettgen was treated for hand burns. All recovered.
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