Jimmy E. Peckenpaugh helped to save Ernest J. Boudreaux from burning, Gulf of Mexico July 18, 1967. At an oil platform off the Louisiana coast, tanks containing 10,000 barrels of crude oil overflowed, the oil catching fire. Boudreaux, 26, and five other workmen, including Peckenpaugh, 21, a college student who was working as a roustabout, jumped from the burning platform into the water, where oil on the surface was burning with flames 6 to 12 feet high. Boudreaux landed in the flames but swam out of them, suffering severe burns. Others of the men were picked up by a boat, from which a raft was thrown to Peckenpaugh. As the boat was leaving, one of the rescued men saw that Boudreaux was still near the flames and in danger of being carried back into them by heavy swells. Taking a life vest with him, he left the boat and swam 35 feet to Boudreaux. Heat was almost unbearable. As Boudreaux clung to the life vest, the man attempted to tow him farther away from the flames but was thwarted by the swells. He called for aid from Peckenpaugh, who was 100 feet away. While Peckenpaugh was paddling the raft to them, the oil tanks collapsed, greatly increasing the flames on the platform. Peckenpaugh entered the water, tied Boudreaux to the raft, and then attempted to tow it. Although the other man aided by paddling, they made no progress. Meanwhile, two men from another platform took a helicopter to the scene, where flames were issuing 300 feet high. The pilot set the helicopter down near the raft, which then was within 6 feet of the flames on the water. The swells caused the aircraft to pitch as its passenger moved onto a pontoon. With difficulty, the pilot maneuvered the craft as his passenger worked with Peckenpaugh and the other man in lifting Boudreaux onto the pontoon. The pontoon dipped partly beneath the surface, and the pitch threatened to cause the tail rotor to hit the water and disable the helicopter. Moving about to distribute their weight, the men got Boudreaux into the cabin. The pilot then lifted off and headed for shore, and the departing boat picked up the other workmen. Boudreaux was hospitalized but later died as the result of his burns.
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