Martin V. Hohenstein saved Fermin Urenda from burning, Dakota City, Nebraska, May 25, 2014. Urenda, 40, was trapped in the driver’s seat of a sport utility vehicle after a nighttime accident in which the vehicle left the highway, struck a pole, and broke into flames at its front end. Hohenstein, 51, contractor, was driving on the highway and came upon the scene just after the accident. Responding to the passenger side of the burning car, he opened the front door and saw that Urenda’s legs were trapped under the dashboard. When Hohenstein then approached the driver’s door and tried to open it but found it jammed shut, he leaned through the window opening and pulled on Urenda, but Urenda did not move. Making repeated entries through both front doors, entering the vehicle at least partially each time, Hohenstein struggled to free Urenda as flames on the vehicle grew. Successful in freeing only one of Urenda’s legs, Hohenstein stepped back from the vehicle to shield himself from the intense heat. He then returned to the driver’s door and, despite flames by then entering the vehicle, leaned inside, pulled hard on Urenda, and freed him. He took Urenda from the car to a point of safety as flames grew to engulf and destroy it. Urenda required hospital treatment, and Hohenstein was sore for a few days but recovered.
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