Joseph A. Buttaccio, Jr., helped to rescue Michael C. Cline from burning, Palmyra, New York, June 10, 2010. Cline, 30, was the driver of an automobile that, in a highway accident at night, left the roadway and came to rest down a wooded embankment, tilted toward its driver’s side. Flames broke out on the car and entered its interior. Conscious, Cline was trapped in the vehicle, unable to release his safety belt. Buttaccio, 47, postal clerk, and his wife drove upon the scene and stopped. Learning that the burning car was occupied, they descended to it and worked to remove its windshield. Unsuccessful in accessing Cline through the opening, they went to the window of the driver’s door and repeatedly reached inside the vehicle in attempts to free him. During one such attempt, an explosion at the car forced Buttaccio from it, his hair aflame. As he turned to retrieve a knife that was thrown to him, his wife reached through the window and with difficulty pulled Cline partway out. Buttaccio then re-entered and cut Cline’s safety belt, after which he and his wife pulled Cline from the car and to safety. Cline required extensive hospitalization for treatment of significant burns and other serious injuries. Buttaccio also required hospital treatment, for second-degree burns to his hands and forehead that caused him to miss a week’s work.
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