William David Pennell rescued Justin C. Ostrander, Christopher M. Napolitan, and James T. Housley from burning, Monongahela, Pennsylvania, March 30, 1999. Ostrander, 23; Napolitan, 20, and Housley, 21, were the occupants of a car that, at night, struck a utility pole head on and caught fire in the engine area. They remained in the car, incapacitated. Asleep in his home nearby, Pennell, 37, heavy equipment operator, was alerted to the accident and responded to the scene wearing only sweat pants. After struggling to open the car’s damaged driver’s door, Pennell leaned inside, grasped Ostrander, and pulled him out of the car, then dragged him away from it. Despite flames intensifying on the front of the car and entering the interior at the dashboard and floorboard, Pennell returned to the driver’s door, again leaned inside, and grasped Napolitan about the upper body. As Napolitan’s knees were stuck under the dashboard, Pennell pulled several times and, with difficulty, freed him as burning material dripped from the ceiling onto Pennell’s bare arms and back. Pennell pulled Napolitan from the car then returned to it. Crouching low, he extended his upper body into the car a third time. He grasped Housley by the shirt collar and pulled him through the driver’s door and to safety. The car was shortly engulfed by flame. Ostrander, Napolitan, and Housley were hospitalized for treatment of injuries they sustained in the accident, Ostrander’s and Napolitan’s including burns. Pennell sustained burns to his arm and back and cuts to his feet. He missed a day’s work and recovered in about three weeks.
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