GREENFIELD — The room was filled with first-responders who save lives daily performing CPR, rushing accident victims to hospitals and battling blazes.

But they weren’t the folks recognized for springing into action that early April morning.

Greenfield Fire Chief James Roberts and Police Chief Jeff Rasche presented four good Samaritans with awards Wednesday for working together to pull a 75-year-old woman from a burning vehicle April 19.

Brian Canter and William Appleget were given the Citizens Lifesaving Award; the pair worked together to pull Rebecca Kramer from a car after it caught fire on north State Street. Shauna Kuhn, who works at Steak ‘n Shake, and Jerry Toomey, an Advanced Auto Parts employee, saw the blaze from their businesses nearby. Both grabbed fire extinguishers and rushed to put the blaze out before first-responders arrived.

A heroism award was bestowed upon the pair for rushing to take charge of what could have been a dangerous situation.

Kramer was riding in friend Mary Lou Poe’s car, headed north on State Street near New Road, when the pair noticed smoke coming from the engine. When the smoke grew thicker, Poe panicked and swerved into another car before pulling off to the side of the road. She jumped out of the car before it even came to a stop and called for Kramer to escape.

But the passenger door was pinned shut against a set of mailboxes, trapping Kramer in the burning car.

Canter and Appleget tried to force the door open to pull her out. They tried moving the mailboxes. When neither worked, Canter, a nurse of 26 years, hopped behind the wheel of his car and drove it into Poe’s vehicle, pushing it free from the mailboxes.

Then, they were able to pull Kramer out.

Wednesday night, the presentation brought the group back together for the first time since the accident, and Kramer and Poe met the people credited with rescuing her.

Kramer, who is still healing from leg injuries she suffered in the crash, thanked the group, posing for a picture with the people she says saved her life.

Toomey, who was leaving the auto parts store when he saw smoke coming from a vehicle, was quick to point out he isn’t the hero in this story, saying Canter and Appleget were the true Good Samaritans.

“I don’t know why he’s not wearing his cape. He needs one,” he joked, motioning to Canter.

It was a team effort, Canter said. Meeting the women who had been in that burning car brought him comfort, he said.

“I’ve been wondering how she was doing,” Canter said. “I didn’t know how to get a hold of her.”

Author photo
Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or