Joseph Martin Remias, 19, airplane service man, helped to save Lenor W. Balcar, 50, and Gertrude W. Lear, 86, from an impending explosion, Short Creek, West Virginia, October 13, 1966. A twin-engine airplane containing Mrs. Balcar and Mrs. Lear, as well as the former’s parents, Carl and Lillian A. Walter, crash-landed near an airport on a narrow strip of ground between a wooded area and a steep bank. The wings of the badly damaged craft rested atop the bank and in the trees, holding the front end above the ground. Fire broke out on the left engine as gasoline leaked from at least one of the fuel tanks which contained more than 600 gallons of gasoline. Remias and other persons at the airport drove to a road 150 feet from the wrecked airplane, as did the airport’s fire truck. Flames on gasoline leaking onto the ground under the left wing rose 10 feet into the air. Remias and others ran to near the airplane but, anticipating an explosion, retreated when the flames suddenly increased to 20 feet high. The pilot, Mrs. Balcar’s husband, then climbed out and called for help in removing the four passengers, all of whom had been injured. Calling for others to follow, Remias ran toward the airplane. The pilot climbed onto the right wing and pulled Mrs. Balcar part way through a window. Remias also climbed onto the wing, from where he aided the pilot in removing Mrs. Balcar. With the help of David Brian Lehr and Melvin L. Ashbrook, they lowered her to the ground and carried her away from the airplane. The pilot ran to the left side of the fuselage, joining Paul C. Bailey, William P. Valput, and John I. Tominack in the confined space between the wreckage and the steep bank. The crash had torn a hole in the left side of the cabin. Alongside the wreckage heat was very noticeable and the gasoline fumes were strong. By then another man had taken a hose from the fire truck to the top of the bank and was spraying chemical foam on the flames. The pilot climbed into the cabin and moved Walter, who was unconscious, to the opening. Walter was removed from the cabin by Valput, Tominack, and Bailey. They were assisted by Howard W. Friedrichs and Ashbrook, who had returned to the airplane. Walter was carried away. Friedrichs and Ashbrook then returned to Tominack at the opening. They were joined by Robert A. Wiesner. Tominack started to climb into the cabin but fell, cutting his leg and breaking his nose. The pilot moved Mrs. Walter to the opening. Tominack, Ashbrock, Friedrichs, and Wiesner removed her from the cabin and carried her away. Heat was increasing in the area between the wreckage and the bank as the flames spread despite efforts of the man with the fire hose. Bailey returned to the hole in the fuselage, and was joined by Remias and Glenn Lee Bemiss. The pilot was having difficulty in moving Mrs. Lear. Remias and Bailey entered the cabin, where heat was noticeable, and helped to move Mrs. Lear to the opening. Emerging from the cabin, Bailey fell and cut his hand. With Bemiss and Bailey pulling while Remias and the pilot pushed, they succeeded in getting Mrs. Lear through the opening. Remias and the pilot emerged from the cabin. All four men carried Mrs. Lear away from the airplane. The man with the fire hose then retreated. The flames spread more quickly, and the left fuel tanks exploded. Flames rose 180 feet into the air. A few minutes later the right fuel tanks exploded. Walter could not be revived, and his death was attributed to a cardiac seizure. All others who had sustained injuries recovered.
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