Samuel Justin Johnson saved Jeffrey H. Richards from burning, North Las Vegas, Nevada, September 23, 2003. Richards, 60, was the pilot of a single-engine airplane that was preparing to land on an airport runway. Johnson, 51, retired air traffic controller, was the pilot of another small plane, which was about to take off from an intersecting runway. The planes collided, creating an explosive burst of flame. Richards’s plane came to a stop upside down and aflame at its front, one of its wings in contact with a wing of Johnson’s plane. Although sustaining significant lacerations, and a burn on one arm, Johnson was able to exit his plane. He started to run from the scene but returned to the wreckage on not seeing anyone else emerge from it. Despite flames and leaking fuel there, Johnson knelt at the left side of Richards’s plane. He extended his arms through a window opening and assisted Richards, who was semiconscious, in removing his restraints. Johnson then grasped Richards and pulled him through the window to safety. Airport personnel responded within minutes and extinguished the flames. Both Richards and Johnson were taken to the hospital, where they were treated for injuries, Johnson’s including a second-degree burn to his left arm, several lacerations to his face, and permanent damage to an eye.
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