In the afternoon of 15 May 1981 Charles Wentzell arrived on the scene of an accident in which a car had left the highway, crashed and burst into flames. Though none of the onlookers could tell him whether anyone was inside, he approached the car and noticed an unconscious woman slumped in the front seat. Unable to open the passenger's door, he went to the driver's side and forced the door open. Undeterred by heavy smoke he reached inside, brushed molten vinyl from the woman's legs and feet, undid her seat belt, and carried her from the wreckage. She survived the mishap, which could well have been fatal.