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Car salesman a hero after pulling driver from burning truck on I-35W

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A car salesman became a lifesaver in the Twin Cities on Wednesday when he vaulted a fence and pulled a driver from his burning truck after a crash on Interestate 35W.

The Star Tribune reports that 58-year-old Deno Yannarelli leapt into action after he saw the truck crash in Roseville shortly after 2:20 p.m., before it became engulfed in flames.

He ran from his workplace at Roseville Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram to the crash scene, grabbed the driver and threw him into the ditch, the newspaper notes.

He then dragged him onto the tailgate of another truck, took off his shirt and laid it across the driver's badly burned body, talking to him to prevent him from going into shock.

According to the Pioneer Press, the driver had initially escaped the burning truck but went back in to grab a fire extinguisher, at which point it erupted and he caught on fire.

"He goes to get back in it to get the fire extinguisher and then it blew," Yannarelli said. "He was engulfed in fire. He was just engulfed in flames."

With the help of other people on the scene, they soaked Yannarelli's shirt with water to help cool the driver's burn wounds.

The driver was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he remains in a serious condition.

Roseville Fire Department released several pictures from the scene yesterday, which caused major delays to drivers on I-35W and initially closed the freeway in both directions, with the southbound road not reopening for six hours.

According to KARE 11, the crash was caused by the semi-truck smashing into a pole of an overhead sign near County Road D.

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