Joseph Varda saved Jeanette DeMotta from burning, Arleta, California, April 11, 1992. Mrs. DeMotta, 65, was in bed when fire broke out in an enclosed patio at the back of her family’s house at night. Driving through the neighborhood, Varda, 22, account executive, discovered the fire and stopped at the scene. After alerting neighbors to the fire and pounding on the windows of the burning house to alert any occupants, Varda went to its front door, where he helped Mrs. DeMotta’s husband escape. Learning that Mrs. DeMotta was still inside, Varda entered the house through its front door and, in the dense smoke inside, found his way to Mrs. DeMotta’s bedroom. He picked her up and carried her outside to safety. Mrs. DeMotta required hospital treatment for smoke inhalation, as did Varda, who fully recovered. Three of Mrs. DeMotta’s family members died in the fire.
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