Robert Hugh Flanagan helped to save Michael A. Canty from burning, Swansea, Massachusetts, July 21, 2010. Canty, 23, was unconscious in the driver’s seat of his sport utility vehicle after it left the highway at night, struck a tree, and caught fire at its front end. Flanagan, 61, associate professor, and his brother were traveling on the highway and witnessed the accident. They stopped at the scene and, reporting the accident, approached the vehicle, finding that it was occupied. They attempted to open the vehicle’s doors and to fight the fire with an extinguisher but were not successful. A state trooper responded to the scene within moments of being alerted, broke out the window of the rear passenger-side door, and attempted without success to cut Canty’s safety belt before withdrawing for air. After Flanagan then reached through the window and unlocked the front passenger-side door, the trooper entered the car through that door but found that Canty was trapped by wreckage. When she asked for help from Flanagan and his brother, Flanagan leaned through the broken-out window, despite flames that were beginning to enter the vehicle beneath the dashboard, and grasped Canty by the belt. His brother leaned through the opened front door and grasped him by an arm. The three rescuers pulled on Canty repeatedly, until he was free. They dragged him from the vehicle and took him to safety as flames grew to fill and engulf the car, destroying it. Canty was hospitalized for treatment of his injuries. Flanagan recovered from bruising.
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