Don Bonwell and Jay Jansen received Citizen of the Year awards from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office for pulling a man out of his burning pickup truck after an accident near 204th and Ida.
The accident occurred last July around 6 o'clock in the morning. Bonwell was driving to work when he saw about a dozen people near a burning truck with the driver, Andy Colburn, still inside. The Navy veteran pulled over to help.
"There was some fire sort of coming in underneath the dash from the brake pedals basically in that area and it kind of brushed his leg or it got very close to his leg where he reacted and at that point that's when I decided that we had to get him out of the vehicle," said Bonwell.
Bonwell and Jansen removed Colburn from the car and laid him flat on the ground until paramedics arrived. Bonwell stayed with Colburn the entire time.
"You always want somebody to be able to do that for you if you were in that situation so I guess kind of paying it forward a little bit is rewarding," said Bonwell, through tears.
He met Colburn face-to-face for the first time since that day on Saturday for the awards banquet.
"They told me the story of how it was and how I was laying there and it was a little emotional," said Colburn. He did not remember the accident or anything afterward until about five weeks later. He broke dozens of bones in the crash and has had several surgeries and lots of therapy.
Nonetheless, Colburn said he was very grateful for the outcome.
"They're heroes. There should be more people like that," said Colburn.