John M. Byrd helped to rescue Ronald B. Thompkins from burning, Round O, South Carolina, September 17, 2011. Semiconscious, Thompkins, 35, lay inside his burning car after a nighttime accident in which the vehicle left the highway, overturned onto its driver’s side, and caught fire at its front end. Byrd, 49, pastor, responded to the scene after being alerted to the accident. Approaching the vehicle and seeing Thompkins inside, Byrd reached through the broken-out window of the passenger door. Able to make contact with Thompkins but not to remove him that way, Byrd retreated and, finding a small ball bat, struck the glass of the vehicle’s sunroof repeatedly, breaking it. Flames by then had entered the passenger compartment of the vehicle, at Thompkins’s feet. Byrd reached inside the car, grasped Thompkins by the arms, and pulled him from the flames and partially through the sunroof opening, headfirst. He called for help. A passing motorist who had stopped at the scene approached, grasped Thompkins, who was aflame, and with Byrd pulled him the rest of the way from the vehicle. They dragged him to safety as flames grew to engulf the car, destroying it. Thompkins was hospitalized for treatment of burns and other injuries, and Byrd was treated at the scene for burns to his hands, from which he recovered.
84378 – 957284378-9572