The Greatest Gift Known Unto Man
onald Nunley screamed, "Oh, dear God, please help me!" as he was about to be roasted alive.
His miraculous rescue was reported in Reader's Digest1 by Sheldon Kelly.
Ron's twenty-five ton semi-trailer was ablaze. He was hauling a load of liquid fuel and was close to home when the accident happened. After passing another vehicle, he pulled back into the outside lane and, not seeing it in time, slammed into the back of a logging truck which had parked part way on Highway 17 near Georgetown, South Carolina.
The cab of Nunley's truck was crushed into a mass of twisted metal, compressed into a third of its normal size. Nunley was trapped inside, his legs pinned beneath the crushed dashboard and his chest imprisoned by the warped and bent steering column.
Two strangers, Douglas Keltz and Andrew Collins, seeing the accident, stopped their cars and rushed to Nunley's aid.
The passenger side of Nunley's vehicle was buried under a mass of burning logs. His fuel tanks were hissing from the fierce heat. Keltz and Collins were frantically working to free him.
Suddenly there was a deafening roar
as the fire erupted out of control.
"I'm carrying fuel," Nunley managed to warn his rescuers as they tore off one of the truck's doors and crawled into the already smoldering and oven-hot cab.
Try as they might, Keltz and Collins couldn't free Nunley. Every moment counted. The fire was rapidly increasing in intensity and all three men knew that time was perilously short.
Collins ran to his car for his axe and slashed mercilessly at the twisted steel cab, swinging dangerously close to Nunley's body.
Suddenly, there was a deafening roar as the fire erupted out of control.
"This is it!" screamed Nunley. His whole explosive cargo was aflame. He was terrified that his rescuers would run for their lives before they could free him.
But Collins and Keltz didn't run. Furiously they worked. Steel crashed against steel until the last piece pinning Nunley was butchered away. Quickly, Collins and Keltz pulled Nunley's bloodied body clear of the burning inferno.
Just in time. Moments later the entire cab was consumed in a ball of fire, followed almost immediately by a sky-high explosion of liquid fuel.
In a special ceremony, Andrew Collins and Douglas Keltz each received the Presidential Medal of Honor. Ronald Nunley, who spent his twenty-eighth birthday in the hospital with head injuries, said he had received the greatest gift known to man—life.
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