Seth C. Russell helped to rescue Abilsai Morales-Roblero from burning, Portland, Oregon, August 30, 2008. Unconscious, Morales-Roblero, 20, was trapped in the front passenger seat of a sport utility vehicle that crashed into a hillside at night. The back end of the vehicle caught fire, and flames spread into the passenger compartment. Russell, 45, real estate broker, drove upon the scene and learned from others there that the vehicle was occupied. He mounted the front part of the wreckage and helped force open the front passenger door. Although flames by then had reached the back of the front seats, Russell extended his upper body into the vehicle and worked to free Morales-Roblero, burning his hand when he attempted to open Morales-Roblero’s safety belt. Russell called out for a knife. A police officer who had arrived by then responded to the vehicle with a knife. As flames issued high off the rear of the vehicle, the officer extended his upper body through the passenger door and freed Morales-Roblero of his safety belt. The two rescuers then grasped Morales-Roblero by the arms, pulled him out, and moved him away shortly before flames grew to engulf the vehicle. Two other occupants of the vehicle died at the scene. Morales-Roblero was hospitalized for treatment of severe injuries, which included second-degree burns. Russell also received hospital treatment, for smoke inhalation and minor burns to his hands and forearms. He recovered.
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