Michael William Baldwin helped to rescue Justin P. Carstensen from burning, Merrill, Wisconsin, July 31, 2007. Following a highway accident involving a pickup truck and the pickup that he was driving, Justin, 17, remained in the driver’s seat, unconscious and restrained by his safety belt. Both vehicles had left the roadway and came to rest upright in a grassy ditch next to each other. Fire broke out in the engine compartment of Justin’s vehicle and at the undercarriage, and grass in the immediate vicinity also caught fire. Traveling on the same highway, Baldwin, 41, delivery driver, and his wife arrived at the scene. They approached the driver’s door of Justin’s pickup, which Baldwin peeled open. He extended his upper body into the cab and attempted to turn off the truck’s ignition, as the engine was racing. Intense heat thwarted the effort. Baldwin then released Justin’s safety belt, but Justin remained entangled by it even as he slumped partially through the driver’s door opening. Baldwin’s wife reached into the cab to support Justin as Baldwin used wire snips, provided by a bystander, to cut the belt; he stomped on flames at his feet as he did so. Baldwin and his wife then grasped Justin by the arms, pulled him from the pickup, and dragged him to safety. Flames grew to envelope Justin’s pickup as well as the other truck. Justin was hospitalized for treatment of extensive burns and injuries sustained in the accident. Baldwin suffered minor burns, scrapes, and bruises but did not require medical treatment, and he recovered.
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