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May 8, 2014

Derry man awarded Coast Guard honor

Derry resident saved two from burning car

DERRY — It took seven years, but a local man was finally honored for his lifesaving efforts.

U.S. Coast Guard Reservist David Fencer received the U.S. Meritorious Service Medal in a ceremony May 3 at the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Boston.

Fencer, a machinery technician first class, was honored for his efforts rescuing trapped passengers in a burning car following an accident near his home in August 2007.

The 47-year-old was in the right place at the right time.

Fencer was awakened in the night by the sound of a vehicle hitting a stone wall near his home on Floyd Road. The car overturned and began to burn.

He responded as a Good Samaritan, getting to the scene to see two passengers trapped inside the burning car and gas leaking from the vehicle.

“It happened about 50 feet up the road, the driver lost control and the car landed on its roof,” Fencer said.

His memory for detail is still very clear. Fencer said everything happened quickly.

He had a friend call for emergency services and ran to get two kitchen fire extinguishers. The occupants were two young men. One occupant was able to get free, but Fencer had to climb inside the vehicle to help the second person get free. That came after he crawled on broken glass and in spilled fluid to reach the other person.

“I never got the flames out, but I was able to buy some time,” Fencer said. “I got them both safely away from the vehicle and emergency crews soon arrived.”

After the accident, Fencer said, he went on with his work, not speaking much about what happened or his heroics, but occasionally telling the story to someone.

Years passed and he moved to a new position in Boston with the Coast Guard. He told the accident story to more coworkers and friends.

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