Robert J. Serio rescued Douglas E. Arnold and Russell I. Pomeroy from burning, Flushing, New York, May 1, 1967. At an airport an airplane containing commerical pilots Arnold, 25, Pomeroy, 38, and nine passengers was involved in a ground collision and sustained heavy damage. Fire broke out on the aircraft, the fuel tanks of which contained about 80 gallons of gasoline. Eight of the passengers escaped through a hatch in the top of the fuselage just behind the cockpit, in which Arnold and Pomeroy were trapped. Serio, 32, police officer, and other police officers arrived, as did emergency vehicles. While dry powder was being sprayed on the flames, Serio and other officers climbed onto a wing of the aircraft and aided the ninth passenger out. Hearing calls for help from the cockpit, Serio entered the cabin, which was partially filled with dense smoke. Heat was intense. Noting flames at the cockpit door, Serio called for and was given an extinguisher. As flames burned in the cabin behind him, Serio used the extinguisher to put out the flames at the cockpit door. He then entered the cockpit, where flames burned at one side. Heat and smoke were intense. Both Pomeroy and Arnold had sustained burns, and the latter was unconscious. Serio emptied the extinguisher on the flames. He took Arnold and then Pomeroy into the cabin and pushed each upward through the hatch. Other police officers outside the cabin removed each to safety. Coughing because of the smoke, Serio made a quick survey of the cabin, saw no one, and started to climb out. He was so affected by the smoke that he had to be assisted from the hatch by other police officers, who then aided him away from the airplane. Meanwhile fire trucks had arrived, and the flames soon were extinguished. Serio collapsed from smoke inhalation and was taken to a hospital, as were Arnold and Pomeroy. All recovered.
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