John D. Kaiser saved Christina A. Huerta, Graciela Vega, and Valerie H. Huerta from burning, Indian Wells, California, August 14, 1997. Dazed, Christina, 15; Graciela, 17, and Valerie, 14, remained in the car in which they were passengers after a highway accident in which the car caught fire on its passenger side. Kaiser, 26, an off-duty deputy sheriff, drove upon the scene immediately after the accident. He approached the driver’s side of the car as Christina was emerging through its rear, side window. Kaiser grasped Christina and pulled her from the vehicle, then turned back to the car, partially entered it through the same window, and grasped Graciela, who also was in the back seat. He pulled Graciela from the car. Despite quickly growing flames that by then had covered the passenger side of the car and were beginning to enter its interior, Kaiser extended his upper body through the driver’s window and grasped Valerie, who, still wearing her safety belt, was in the front passenger seat. With difficulty, he released the belt and pulled Valerie partially through the window. Another man arrived and assisted in freeing her from the car. Kaiser obtained a fire extinguisher from an arriving officer and returned to the car for the driver, who had been thrown to the passenger side. A burst of flames issued from beneath the car, burning Kaiser on the legs. He was forced away from the vehicle, which was then engulfed by flame. The driver was killed in the accident, but the three rescued girls, who required hospital treatment for injury, survived. Kaiser was taken to the hospital for treatment of second-degree burns to both legs, which caused him to miss two months’ work.
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