Nicholas Popadyn, Jr., rescued DeAngelo S. X. Watkins from burning, Bellbrook, Ohio, December 2, 1999. DeAngelo, 6, was unconscious in the front passenger seat of a car after an accident in which the car left the highway and struck a utility pole, then overturned onto its roof and caught fire on its underside. Electric lines from the pole, which was broken into pieces, hung low at the scene. A motorist who arrived at the scene, Popadyn, 52, real estate executive, pulled off the highway and responded to the burning car. Hearing moaning from inside the car, Popadyn approached its passenger side, where he saw DeAngelo through the broken-out window of the front door. Kneeling, Popadyn reached through the window and felt DeAngelo’s safety belt. He shouted for a knife, which a man provided. Popadyn then cut the safety belt, and DeAngelo dropped to the ceiling of the car. Popadyn grasped DeAngelo by his coat and pulled him through the window, then picked him up and carried him to safety. Popadyn returned to the car for the driver but could not see him in the wreckage. Flames increased to engulf the car and were not extinguished by firefighters until power to the lines was turned off. The driver died at the scene. DeAngelo required hospitalization for a broken leg and other injuries, and he sustained minor burns to his face and chest. He recovered.
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