Robert P. Bercel helped to save William J. Shepherd from burning, New Haven, Michigan, September 28, 2007. Shepherd, 78, was trapped inside a burning van that came to rest on its driver’s side after a collision with a tractor-trailer. The vehicles were only a few feet apart, with flames issuing from the front of the tractor and the exposed underside of the van. Bercel, 46, laborer, drove upon the scene and stopped. He approached the front of the van, removed its windshield, and, crouching, stepped inside. Finding Shepherd’s legs pinned by the steering wheel, Bercel pulled up on it, freeing him. With flames growing on the outside of the van, Shepherd grasped Bercel around his neck, and Bercel backed from the vehicle, pulling him. Two other men had approached and helped remove Shepherd fully from the van. Bercel and the other men then carried Shepherd away from the van, which was shortly engulfed by flames. Shepherd was hospitalized a day for treatment of lacerations to his arm, and Bercel sustained minor lacerations. Both men recovered.
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