Jose Alvarado saved Jason W. and Julia G. Hoffman from burning, Kandiyohi, Minnesota, August 17, 2012. Siblings Jason, 5, and Julia, 8, remained in the back seat of a minivan after a highway accident in which the vehicle left the roadway, entered a ditch, and caught fire at its front end. Alvarado, 48, heavy equipment operator, approached on the highway and stopped at the scene. After an unsuccessful attempt to gain entry to the minivan through its front passenger door, he went to the driver’s side and, aided by another man who responded, removed the window of the rear door. Despite growing and spreading flames, Alvarado extended his upper body through the window opening and unbuckled Jason’s safety belt. Jason grasped Alvarado about the neck, and Alvarado backed from the vehicle with him. After taking the boy to safety, Alvarado returned to the passenger side of the van, where the window of the rear door was missing. Although flames had entered the front of the vehicle by then and dense smoke was accumulating inside, he again extended his upper body into the vehicle. Julia, who was unconscious, was pinned by a leg in the wreckage. Alvarado unbuckled her safety belt, freed her leg, and pulled her out of the minivan as police officers fought the flames with fire extinguishers. Jason was hospitalized for treatment of his injuries, and he recovered, but Julia died shortly after her rescue. Alvarado sustained lacerations to his arms and hands and exacerbated an existing back injury.
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