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Coloradoan Honored by DOT For Truck Crash Rescue

January 6, 1998

January 6, 1998

For a daring rescue of two persons from a burning overturned gasoline tank truck at great risk to himself, Duane Robitaille of Granby, Colo., was presented the coveted Department of Transportation Award for Heroism today.

Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle presented the award -- a bronze medal and an engraved plaque -- at a ceremony at the Department of Transportation Headquarters in Washington.

"Mr. Robitaille's extremely brave, spontaneous act was in the best tradition in America of going to the aid of others," Wykle said. "In putting himself in grave danger of his own life, Mr. Robitaille earned the gratitude not only of those he saved but of all of us involved in safety on the highways."

Robitaille, now 33, was driving near Berthoud Falls, Colo., about 50 miles west of Denver, just before daylight June 22, 1996, when he came upon the cargo tank engulfed in flames. The driver and a passenger were trapped inside, calling for help. Robitaille twice ran through the flames to extricate and drag them to safety. All three suffered minor injuries. The vehicle was destroyed by fire and a subsequent explosion, as were a nearby house and automobile.

Investigating officers were of the opinion that the truck driver and passenger would not have survived had Robitaille not been on the scene.

The award for heroism is granted sparingly to recognize individual acts of heroism endangering the honoree's life in an attempt to save a life or to prevent a wreck, disaster or grave accident in any mode of transportation.

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Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014