Last April, Richard Dorrity was at his Livingston home on Lincoln Boulevard when he heard a big "boom" just up the street.
A 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck had just driven into the path of an oncoming 2008 Peterbilt tractor-trailer. Instinctively, Dorrity said, he hopped in his car and drove to the fiery crash scene to help.
"There was 100 feet of back smoke in the air," Dorrity said in an interview with the Sun-Star Wednesday. "It looked like an atom bomb went off."
Although a 19-year-old man from El Nido was killed in the crash at the intersection of Atwater Jordan Road and Lincoln Boulevard, the 66-year-old Modesto native was able to save the man in the pickup truck, Clyde Willoughby of Gig Harbor, Wash., who was also 19-years-old at the time.
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Before pulling him out of the pickup truck, Dorrity said, "I could see his head out the window and he said, 'Help me, help me! I don't want to burn.'"
Now, Dorrity is being honored with the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission award for his selfless courage on April 19, 2016. The Carnegie Medal is given out to people in the U.S and Canada who "risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others," according to its website.
"It feels good," Dorrity said. "It's nice someone acknowledges something was done."
It was about 5 p.m. on a Tuesday when the crash occurred. Willoughby was headed east on Atwater Jordan Road when he ran through a stop sign. At the same time the driver of the tractor-trailer, Sergio Silva Leonardo, was headed south on Lincoln Boulevard.
At the time there wasn't a stop sign on Lincoln Boulevard, California Highway Patrol reported. Although since then the intersection was made into a four-way stop, Dorrity said.
When Dorrity arrived to the scene he saw flames surrounding the pickup truck, he said, and used part of a metal fence to pry the window out of the way so he could pull Willoughby out of the car.
"When I got him out we walked about three steps and the thing blew up," Dorrity said. "It knocked us both down."
By then, Dorrity's wife, Renee Black Dorrity, arrived at the scene and was helping to hold Willoughby up, he said.
The pickup truck had hit a pole, Dorrity said, and electrical wires were draped over both of those vehicles and his car also.
"It was blazing," he said. "By the time I found out the other guy (Leonardo) was in his car there were flames everywhere. I wasn't able to pull him out. That always bothered me."
"The fire burned like gasoline was being poured on it," Dorrity added.
The day of the crash there were some spectators nearby, Dorrity said, but nobody came to assist him even though he called out for help.
"No one came to help me until my wife got here," Dorrity said. "I'm happy I could help."
After Willoughby was released from the hospital, Dorrity said, he flew down from Washington with his mother to meet him. Willoughby's mother gave him an angel-shaped gold medallion, he said, "and we stayed in touch ever since."
Leonardo would be 22 years old today and his memorial still stands by the intersection of the fiery crash just up the street from Dorrity's home.