Van L. Anderson rescued Hazel Baldschun from the effects of hazardous acid, Chattanooga, Tennessee, February 17, 2018. Hazel, 3, was trapped in the crushed wreckage of a pickup truck driven by her mother after a tractor-trailer tanker struck their pickup head-on on a mountainside highway and forced them over an embankment. The tanker, containing about 5,000 gallons of monochloroacetic acid, a toxic chemical, overturned and came to rest partly atop the pickup, the roof of which was destroyed in the collision. Anderson, 54, paving equipment operator who lived nearby and heard the crash, left his home and ran to the highway at the scene where he heard Hazel crying and saw fluid, which he believed was gasoline, escaping the tanker and flowing into the pickup truck. Ignoring a 911 dispatcher’s relayed warning not to approach the wreckage, Anderson moved to the pickup and located Hazel in her seat as acid continued to leak from the damaged tanker near her. Anderson, standing on a rock outcrop adjacent the driver’s side of the pickup, extended his upper torso down through the opening in the pickup’s roof to unfasten Hazel from the car seat and lift her from the vehicle. Anderson carried Hazel away from the wreck to safety. Hazel suffered facial burns from the acid. Her mother died in the accident.
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