Taj Matney rescued David N. Guldner from burning, Knights Ferry, California, October 13, 2003. Guldner, 41, was the driver of a pickup truck that left the highway, went into a ravine, and came to a stop on its passenger side at the base of the 25-foot-deep ravine. Dazed and injured, he attempted to exit the vehicle as flames erupted on the grass beneath its engine. Motorists stopping at the scene included Matney, 33, electrician. He descended the ravine to the pickup then climbed atop it and attempted to pull Guldner through the driver’s window. Guldner was caught in the wreckage, and flames entering the cab surrounded his lower body. Matney struggled, freeing Guldner, then pulled him, aflame, from the pickup. He and two other men smothered some of the flames on Guldner then dragged him back up to the highway. Guldner required extensive hospitalization for treatment of third-degree burns to 40 percent of his body. Matney was treated at a hospital for a minor burn and abrasion to his hands, and he recovered.
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