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Corbett womans hero honored

Astoria's Walter E.S. Hohl pulled Nev Scott from her burning motor home

Astoria resident Walter E.S. Hohl, who came to the rescue of Corbett-area residents Bob and Nev Scott when their motor home crashed in Cascade Locks on Oct. 22, 2006, has received the Carnegie Medal for Heroism for his actions.

The announcement was made by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission Thursday, adding Hohl, 38 at the time of the rescue, to a list of 98 medal recipients in 2007. He will receive a $5,000 grant from the fund established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Hohl, a ship inspector, could not be reached for comment, but Nev Scott, who survived the flaming crash, was among the first to be notified of his honor. Though Hohl made valiant efforts to pull Bob Scott free of the wreckage, Scott, 76, a former Corbett fire chief, died of burns and smoke inhalation.

Nev Scott was driving on the day when their motor home inexplicably left the road at Cascade Locks, overturned and caught fire.

'He (Hohl) saw me flailing around in there. I was trying to get Bob out. He (Hohl) was just an ordinary little guy, not very big, not your macho variety, a plain old guy who did what he had to do. He pulled a size 16 out through a size 10 window, so he had to be pretty strong,' Scott said this week.

Hohl and another unidentified man had just taken Scott from the wreck when an explosion occurred. Witnesses said flames shot 40 feet high. Hohl and the other rescuer broke the windshield with a fence post, attempting to pull Scott free from his safety belt and the weight of loose material that had flown forward in the crash. Forced away by the intense heat, Hohl went for a fire extinguisher, then turned to see that Scott was partially out the windshield and returned to help pull him free.

Hohl, who was traveling with his wife and family that day, sustained minor burns to his face, cheek and nose.

Though a number of people helped at the scene, Hohl and an unidentified man, possibly a motorcycle rider in a helmet, played principal roles in the rescue. Carnegie investigators could not find the identity of the other man.

At the time of the event, Hohl, a former volunteer firefighter, said his response was mostly instinct.

'When you see somebody in distress, you just don't drive by,' he said.