Richard A. Pelletier, 23, business machine operator, helped to rescue Francis L. McGonagle, 35, corporation advertising manager, from burning, Somerset, Massachusetts, February 18, 1966. When a small two-door sedan containing McGonagle and his wife was struck from behind by another automobile, the rear of the sedan was badly crumpled and flames broke out at the fuel tank, which contained about 20 gallons of gasoline. McGonagle was badly dazed, and his wife suffered fatal injuries. Flames on the rear of the sedan were six feet high, and others issued a foot inside the broken rear window. Flames on the seat were as much as a foot high. Pelletier ran to the driver’s side of the automobile and pulled at the door handle. Michael P. Ferreira and Lawrence R. Paulhus ran to Pelletier as the latter succeeded in opening the door. Heat was intense. Flames had increased to eight feet over the exterior and were two feet high inside the sedan. None of the rescuers could see McGonagle’s wife because of the smoke which was dense. Ferreira reached into the sedan. Pelletier did the same and also put his head inside. Both took hold of McGonagle. Paulhus attempted to reach into the sedan also, but the other two men blocked the door so he grasped Ferreira around the waist. Paulhus pulled on Ferreira as he and Pelletier tugged at McGonagle but could not move him until they unfastened his seat belt. They drew McGonagle from the sedan. Pelletier beat out most of the flames on McGonagle with his gloved hands. He and Paulhus extinguished the remaining flames by rolling McGonagle on the ground. Minutes after McGonagle’s removal from the sedan there was an explosive spread of flames which then rose to 15 feet in height. Firemen extinguished the flames. McGonagle was hospitalized for extensive burns but recovered.
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