Thomas Joseph Delgado helped to save David D. Ong from burning, Wichita, Kansas, August 31, 2011. Ong, 65, remained in the driver’s seat of his pickup truck after an accident in which the vehicle left the highway, struck the guide rail, and, remaining upright, caught fire. Flames spread along the passenger side and underside of the vehicle and soon reached its engine area and fuel tank. Dense smoke filled the cab. Delgado, 43, deputy sheriff, responded to the scene. He reached through the open window of the driver’s door repeatedly and grabbed Ong in attempts to pull him from the vehicle, but deteriorating conditions, including intense heat, forced him back. Another deputy sheriff arrived and used a fire extinguisher on the front and driver’s side of the truck. He then provided a knife to Delgado, who used it to cut the shoulder strap of Ong’s safety belt. As the two men resumed the attempt to free Ong, a sudden rush of flames forced them back. Returning to the vehicle, flames by then having compromised its fuel tank to allow burning gasoline to flow from it, they reached inside, freed Ong’s grip of the steering wheel, and tugged on him, pulling him with difficulty through the window. They dragged him across the highway to safety seconds before flames engulfed the truck, destroying it. Ong required hospitalization, and his rescuers received hospital treatment for smoke inhalation, from which they recovered.
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