Philip D. Petr helped to save Dustin Tesdahl and others from burning, Blue Hill, Nebraska, September 5, 2012. Tesdahl, 18, and six other students, ages 6 to 10, were passengers on a school bus that collided with a tractor-trailer carrying hay bales. Both vehicles went off the roadway, the bus coming to rest partially in a ditch with the tractor-trailer close by. Fire broke out at the wreckage and spread. A motorist, Petr, 46, research technician, was approaching the scene and saw smoke. Stopping there, he was alerted by a boy who had escaped the bus that others were inside. Petr found that the bus’s service door was jammed shut and that its emergency door at the rear was blocked by a bale of hay. Obtaining a tool from his truck, Petr broke out a window along the driver’s side of the bus and, hoisted to it by another man who had responded, climbed inside. He handed two of the remaining children out through the window to the other man and then crawled over dislodged seats blocking the aisle to reach Tesdahl, who was badly injured. As the bus filled with smoke under deteriorating conditions, Petr took Tesdahl to the front of the vehicle and handed him out to the other man. Two of the remaining students made it to safety through a broken window. Tesdahl died of his injuries, as did the drivers of the vehicles and another of the students. Petr sustained a minor burn to his leg from which he recovered.
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