Shining moments: Courage under fire

When he saw the accident, Forrest (Gil) Wilson never hesitated to help a man trapped in a pickup truck threatened by fire. But he admits he did feel some concern.

Brother Wilson of the Muncie 2nd Ward, Indianapolis Indiana Stake, is an advanced emergency medical technician, but he was off duty and driving home from a shopping trip one morning last January.At the scene of the accident, he saw a pickup truck pinned against an iron fence and a tow truck that had caught fire. He also saw 65-year-old Donald Younce on the driver's side of the pickup unconcious, bleeding and trapped. The tow truck was blocking the passenger side door and the dented driver side door was jammed against the fence.

Some bystanders had fire extinguishers and were trying to douse the blaze, but moments after they would knock down the flames, the fire would flare up again.

When Brother Wilson was able to determine Mr. Younce had a pulse and was still breathing, he sprung into action.

Even though he knew if the tow truck's gas tank exploded it could kill him as well as Mr. Younce and others who were trying to help, he perservered.

"I feel like life is too precious to let go like that," Brother Wilson said. "The man was still alive and I thought, `He has a family somewhere.' "

He couldn't ignore feelings for his own safety, though. He was not wearing any fire-protection gear. And thoughts of his wife and three children kept running through his mind.

He later said that prayers were answered at the time. "We were protected that day, I have no doubt in my mind," he said. "My children in their prayers ask for me to be protected when I'm on the streets. That day it paid off."

He also had a prayer in his heart as he struggled and finally pulled the door down far enough that he and others who had come to assist were able to get Mr. Younce out of the pickup that was by that time on fire itself.

Brother Wilson later received Indiana's emergency management agency's Otis R. Bowen, M.D., Heroic Rescue Award, but he said he had another reason for helping Mr. Younce.

"I hope if I'm ever in spot like that, someone would help me," he said.

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