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Crash+gas pump+fire=heroes

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 04. 2012 2:16AM

MANCHESTER - Peter Kendall doesn't remember his car smashing into a gas pump and catching fire last Aug. 15 at a station at the corner of Elm and Webster streets.

But Becky Grosso and Jeff Foy remember racing across the street to rescue Kendall, who was trapped in the front seat; his 5-year-old granddaughter was seated in the back of the locked car.

For the rescue of the Hooksett man and his granddaughter, Grosso and Foy will receive the New Hampshire Union Leader Hero Award.

Kendall, 61, now says about the accident: 'I zigged when I should have zagged.'

But it was a medical issue that caused him to lose consciousness as he was approaching his insurance agent's office at 1889 Elm St.

Grosso and Foy both work in the insurance office, but had no idea Kendall was a client of Foy Insurance Group when they dashed across the street to help.

'For me, any time in life if I've seen someone in need, I've got to help,' said Foy, who as a young man was a lifeguard and camp counselor.

Grosso, a former volunteer EMT in New Boston, said she first tried to go to the driver's side of Kendall's vehicle, but was forced back by the flames.

'I didn't know (Kendall's granddaughter) was in the back seat,' she said.

When she saw the girl, she motioned for little Audrey to unlock the door and got the child out of the vehicle.

Meanwhile Foy went around to the driver's side door, where he saw Kendall stirring. Foy leaned in as close as he could to the flames and tried to pull open the driver's side door. 'I couldn't get it open,' he said. It was apparently jammed and only opened about a foot, not wide enough to get Kendall out.

So Foy ran around to the passenger side. Kendall said Foy took off his jacket and used it to protect his arm as he smashed the window and 'dragged me out through the passenger side.'

Grosso said she took the little girl next door to the fruit market and stayed with her until the ambulance arrived.

'Talk about a brave little girl,' said Grosso. Audrey told Grosso and Foy she had used the stick from a lollipop she'd gotten at the bank to try to rouse her grandfather before help arrived.

'I was poking Grampy in the neck,' she told them.

But they were even more impressed when she looked at the car and said: 'Grampy's going to need a new car. There goes my college fund.'

Kendall said he is glad he was driving a large car - a Mercury Marquis. He figures that when he lost consciousness, his foot jammed on the gas pedal and his car went through concrete posts and smashed into, and onto, a gas pump.

Kendall said he was transported to Catholic Medical Center, and eventually discovered he has epilepsy. He's now under treatment, but the man who says he bought and sold hot rods for a living has lost his license to drive for at least a year.

Foy said Grosso's experience as an EMT was important and so was her presence.

'It helped a lot having her with me,' he said.

Gross said her EMT training just kicked in when she saw the crash.

Kendall's take on it: 'The stars were aligned that morning.'

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