Sirois honored for quick action to save life of man trapped in burning truck
Salado native Allen Sirois is among the 15 Americans and three Canadians that the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission honored today by announcing them as 2019 recipients of the Carnegie Medal.
Sirois is the son of Stephanie Hood of Salado and grandson of Monroe and Linda Moore of Salado.
The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today recognized 15 Americans and three Canadians for risking their lives while trying to save others from perilous, life-threatening situations.
According to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announcement: after a May 26, 2018, highway accident in Belton, Texas, 20-year-old delivery driver Allen Sirois, of Salado, Texas, responded to the scene: a concrete mixer truck had overturned onto its driver’s side, flames were burning in the engine area, and its driver, Melvin K. Belcher, 60, was trapped inside. Sirois used a fire extinguisher in an attempt to douse the flames, but it did little to extinguish the blaze. He kicked a small hole in the windshield, but he could not gain access to the cab from there. Sirois climbed the truck and, standing on a platform between the cab and the mixer, he opened the passenger door. He saw Belcher inside the smoke-filled cab, which flames had breached near the driver’s door and windshield. Sirois reached through the open door and, with difficulty, pulled Belcher partially out of the cab. Another man moved onto the truck and pulled Belcher fully free from the cab. Others took Belcher to the ground and carried him to safety. Belcher and Sirois sustained minor burns, and they recovered.
The following was reported by Salado Village Voice about the incident shortly after it happened:
Salado native Allen Sirois was working on the loading dock at McGregor Welding Supply in Belton when he heard an explosion.
“The earth shook,” he said. “I’m not kidding. It sounded like a bomb.”
Sirois looked up in time to watch a cement truck, which had a passenger side tire blow out, hit the metal barricades leading to the flyover of I-35 NB to Highway 190 WB in Belton.
The cement truck flipped over and landed in the median on the driver’s side.
“I saw that it was crashing so I grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran toward the truck,” Sirois said. “We have a lot of fire extinguishers.”
By the time he got there, the truck was already in flames, ignited by diesel fuel.
The cab of the truck was crushed and the driver, Melvin Belcher was trapped inside.
“He was stuck,” Sirois said. “He couldn’t crawl out the windows either.”
The passenger side door was stuck, too, but Sirois — who had crawled on top of the truck despite it being in flames — was able to force the door open.
“He was caught up in the seat belt and couldn’t crawl out,” he said. “I reached down and grabbed him around the arms and pulled him out.”
By that time, there were two others on the scene before ambulance and police arrived: Manuel Magadan, a 2018 SHS graduate and Manny Alvarez, another employee at McGregor Welding Supply.
Manuel and Manny helped Sirois get Belcher off of the truck and away from the flames that were spreading quickly. He suffered minor injuries including burning his arm.
Just as Sirois was pulling Belcher out, the diesel on the passenger side tank exploded, spraying him, Belcher and the door. “I got lucky,” he said. “It could’ve been a lot worse.”
It could have been much worse for Belcher, too, had Sirois not been so close by.
“I think if we got there a minute later, it would have been too late,” he said.
Sirois went in, he says, for the “same reason anyone would. I would hope someone would do it for me.”
Other recipients of the Carnegie Hero Medal are these:
Rebecka Blackburn, Leduc, Alta.
Sommer Marie King Leduc, Alta.
Jason P. Maxwell, Maple Valley, Wash.
Kote Mhitari, Sandy, Utah
Phillip H. DiLuca, Clinton, Maine
Todd D. Lyford, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine
J. Ryan Thornton, Thornton, Colo.
Michael Douglas Barkhouse, Walton, N.S.
Leon Wright, Orlando, Fla.
Jordan Scott Lambay, Okinawa, Japan
Richard Thomas Krochta, Florissant, Colo.
Richard J. Gandolfo, Suffolk County, N.Y.
Robert M. Hosey, Coplay, Pa.
Nathan Scott Wanhala, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Heather Zabrowski, Olympia, Wash.
Darren M. Smith, Vero Beach, Fla.
David Covington Rockingham, N.C.