John Lane saved Gary L. and Sally W. Puckett from burning, Darien, Georgia, March 17, 2004. Puckett, 61, and his wife, 51, were the driver and front-seat passenger, respectively, of a sedan that was struck by an out-of-control tractor-trailer on an interstate highway bridge. The trailer became separated from the rig and continued moving while the tractor came to rest adjacent to the Pucketts’ car. Both of those vehicles caught fire, as did fuel from at least one ruptured tank that flowed onto the bridge deck. Dazed and severely injured, Puckett and his wife remained inside their car as a wall of flames spread across the bridge deck, and flames began to enter the car through its driver’s window. Another motorist, Lane, 50, logging contractor, witnessed the accident and pulled onto the median. Approaching the scene on foot, he saw Mrs. Puckett struggling in the burning car. He hurried to the front passenger door, opened it, and worked to detach her safety belt. Puckett, meanwhile, lay atop his wife. Lane pulled him from the car and dragged him away, then returned to the car and worked to free Mrs. Puckett. An explosion outside the car increased the flames that were issuing through the driver’s window. Lane pulled Mrs. Puckett out of the car and away from the burning vehicles. Neither she nor her husband was burned, but each required extensive hospitalization for treatment of significant injuries.
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