Patrick J. Rimoshytus, a long-time volunteer fire fighter in Warren, was awarded a Carnegie Medal this week from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in Pennsylvania. He is one of 22 across the United States and Canada to receive the award this year. According to a press release, the medal is given “to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.”
Mr. Rimoshytus, a long-time Warren Fire Department volunteer, was awarded for actions he took on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2012, when he saw a car accident unfold at the intersection of Market Street and Schoolhouse Road.
As he drove by on Market, Mr. Rimoshytus noticed a smoking coming from a car with the driver, Carolyn Corbett, 68, of Barrington, still behind the wheel. Ms. Corbett had remained in the driver’s seat after the vehicle struck a car stopped in front of it. Her car remained in drive, causing its spinning front wheels to erode to their rims, dig into the asphalt, and start a fire in the vehicle’s undercarriage. Flames soon spread into the passenger compartment.
Stopping when he saw the smoke, Mr. Rimoshytus grabbed a firefighter’s helmet and jacket from his own car and went to the driver’s door of the burning car, but flames and heat drove him back. He approached the passenger side of the vehicle, opened the front door, and leaned inside.
Unsuccessful in his attempt to unlatch Corbett’s seatbelt, Rimoshytus withdrew to search for a knife. He returned to the passenger door and entered the car again, that time kneeling on the front passenger seat. By then, flames had grown and spread to Ms. Corbett’s clothing. He grasped Ms. Corbett around the torso and pulled her, free of her safety belt by then, toward him. When he called for help, others at the scene reached inside the vehicle, grasped Mr. Rimoshytus by the arms, and pulled him and Ms.Corbett out of the car and to the ground. Flames grew quickly to engulf the interior of the car.
Ms. Corbett was hospitalized for treatment of extensive burns but died two days later. Mr. Rimoshytus was hospitalized overnight for treatment of first- and second-degree burns, to his legs and right hand. He recovered.