TORONTO, Ont. – Charles Carriere, a driver for Villeneuve Tank Lines of Cornwall, was honoured this morning at the 35th annual National Transportation Week Ontario Awards Breakfast.
The Award of Valour is presented each year to member(s) of the transportation community in recognition of heroic actions.
At about 8:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 2003, Carriere was driving west on Highway 401 near the Cataraqui Marsh in Kingston, when he noticed a set of headlights on the eastbound side of the highway veer off the road and plunge into a field of trees. Suddenly, he saw a ball of flames erupt from the vehicle.
Carriere immediately pulled over and parked his truck on the side of the highway and called 911. Then he grabbed a fire extinguisher from his truck and ran across the road to the crash site, and attempted to douse the flames coming from the engine of the car.
When he was able to get the fire down enough to see through the thick clouds of smoke, Carriere opened the driver-side door and found an unconscious woman inside the car, wedged in place by the pushed in dash and steering wheel. At this point, the flames regained their fury and shot up to the roof, igniting the woman’s hair. Carriere patted the flames out. Then, unable to reach the latch of her seat belt, he attempted to free the woman by cutting at the seat belt with a pocketknife.
When this didn’t work, Carriere entered the car through the back seat to try from there. By this time, others had shown up on the scene and offered assistance. With the help of another man, Carriere was able to free the woman. By the time emergency crews showed up, the car was completely engulfed in flames.
The woman was taken to hospital with two broken legs and various cuts and bruises. Carriere was credited with saving her life.
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