Lucien G. Virgile, 40, engineering supervisor, rescued Joshua J. Sands, 11, and helped to rescue Thomas Louie, 52, commercial artist, and Samuel C. Kayman, 15, schoolboy, from burning, Bronx, New York, May 15, 1965. An automobile struck the rear of a four-door sedan driven by Louie and containing Joshua, Samuel, and two other Boy Scouts, Elliot P. Epps and Paul Mitchell. The two vehicles, locked together, skidded to astride the curb of the highway, and fire broke out at the rear of the sedan with flames rising six to eight feet above the wreckage. The two men in the other vehicle escaped from their automobile. Virgile witnessed the accident and ran to the driver’s side of the sedan where Joshua was trying to crawl through the open window of the front door. Virgile pulled Joshua through the opening and carried him away from the sedan. Returning to the automobile, Virgile timed his move between gusts of flame issuing along the side of the sedan and ran to the automobile long enough to open the door beside Louie, who was unconscious. Samuel, who was in the front seat, opened the door on the right side but found his escape blocked by flames. He then disengaged Louie’s seat belt and attempted to push him out the other doorway. Again timing his move to avoid the gusts of flame, Virgile darted back to the door and took hold of Louie. William J. Van Ness then arrived. He also took hold of Louie, and together they pulled him from the sedan. John R. Massari ran to the door, which had swung partly shut. He opened it and held it open with one leg. Virgile and Van Ness ran back to the door and took hold of Samuel, who had moved to behind the steering wheel. Between them they pulled Samuel through the doorway and aided him away from the sedan. Elliot started to climb from the rear compartment into the front seat. Keeping the door open, Massari obtained a hold on Elliot and drew him from the sedan. Paul began climbing into the front seat from the rear section. Massari and William A. Quirk who ran to the door took hold of Paul. Between them they pulled Paul from the sedan and led him away from the wreckage. Joshua, Louie, Samuel, Elliot, and Paul were hospitalized for injuries and burns. All recovered. Virgile and Van Ness each sustained burns on his hands and forehead, which healed.
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Lucien Gustav Virgile of West Hempstead, N.Y., died on March 10, 2012, at age 87.
He received the Carnegie Medal for saving the lives of two Boy Scouts and their unconscious driver from a flaming car.
A retired securities analyst, he was a former aeronautical engineer who helped develop the Bell X-1 Rocket, the first supersonic plane, on display at the Smithsonian. He was an avid gardener, fisherman, artist, bridge champion, stock market guru, magician, deadly tennis player, and vice president of What Color is Love, Inc.
(Edited from an obituary in Newsday, March 13, 2012.)