Robert R. Sajovetz, Sr., saved Grace M. Ashbrook from burning, Tampa, Florida, December 19, 1962. Fire broke out in a one-story frame dwelling in which fuel oil had leaked from a heating stove during the night and spread to all of the rooms. The flames quickly spread throughout the dwelling. Mrs. Ashbrook, 78, who could walk only with two canes, attempted to escape. She fell to the floor three feet from the side window of the bedroom and was unable to rise. Her 80 year-old husband, who was in the living room, sustained facial burns and left the dwelling. A neighbor and his wife attempted to enter but were driven back by smoke and flames. Sajovetz, 26, physical education instructor, was attracted and ran to the rear of the dwelling, avoiding a fallen electric wire, which sputtered sparks. He broke several louvers in the rear window of the bedroom. Deciding from Mrs. Ashbrook’s moaning that she was nearer the side window, he ran to it and removed its louvers. Dense smoke emerged, while flames issued through the top of the window. Sajovetz extended his head and shoulders through the opening. The room was filled with dense smoke laced with flames, and heat was intense. Unable to reach Mrs. Ashbrook, who was inert, Sajovetz worked himself to a position suspended over the sill with both feet above the ground. He grasped Mrs. Ashbrook by the wrists and drew her to directly below the window. Choking from the smoke, Sajovetz retreated from the window and took in fresh air. He then extended himself over the sill as before while flames continued to issue from the window above him. Grasping Mrs. Ashbrook by the wrists, he drew her to a seated position against the wall. His hair then caught fire, and he wriggled out of the window. After beating out the flames and gulping fresh air, he once more extended himself through the window opening. He raised Mrs. Ashbrook from the floor and squirmed backwards until his feet touched the ground. Coughing violently, Sajovetz drew Mrs. Ashbrook through the window opening. Others aided in carrying her away from the dwelling and then put out smoldering places on her attire. Firemen arrived soon afterward and extinguished the flames, which by that time filled the dwelling and were issuing eight to 10 feet through all windows. Mrs. Ashbrook, who was hospitalized for severe burns, contracted pneumonia and died. The burns on the head of Sajovetz healed, as did blisters which dripping tar had caused on his arms and back.
46296 – 464846296-4648