It was nearly midnight last October when Mary Hatley Blowe left her boyfriend's apartment to pick up a mushroom-and-pepperoni pizza from the local carryout. Suddenly, the car in front of her spun out of control, flipped over, slammed into a tree and burst into flames.
Blowe stopped and ran toward the burning car. She spotted a foot sticking out of the passenger window and started to tug on the dazed driver's leg.
"There was one little spot on the car that hadn't caught fire yet, so I ran up and started to pull and yell at him . . . . I don't even remember doing that. He didn't move, so I pushed his foot back inside the car and that woke him up. Then I reached in and helped him pull himself out."
Minutes later, Blowe said, the car exploded. Both Blowe and the 17-year-old driver managed to escape the inferno without serious injury.
Blowe and 17 others were honored June 3 by the Fairfax County Police Department in a special ceremony that recognized them for their help in solving crimes or aiding people in distress. The others were:
*Kevin C. Bolt, Falls Church; Gene T. Doe, Annandale; Charles L. Hoffman, Springfield, and James L. Miller, Arlington, who helped police capture a man who had grabbed a woman's purse at a shopping center.
*Stephen J. Wood, Fairfax, who provided police with information that was crucial in the arrest of a man wanted for abduction.
*Stephen W. Reynolds, Herndon, who helped two police officers arrest a man for shoplifting.
*Luis C. Albright, Alexandria, who notified police of the location of a man who had just robbed a bank.
*Jeff Brown, Reston, who called police after he saw youths breaking into a school. When Brown noticed one of the juveniles running away, he caught up with him and turned the youth over to the police.
*Carol Glaser, Wheaton, who helped a woman who was being attacked by a man in a shopping center parking lot.
*Mickey J. Chrestman and Samuel G. Tate, Falls Church, who helped police officers subdue a man suspected of cashing stolen traveler's checks.
*The Rev. Richard L. Stinson, Peter A. Stinson and Philip M. Stinson, all of Mount Vernon. While on vacation in Maine, the Stinsons tried to save a man who had fallen into a river. After Peter Stinson pulled the man from the river, Richard and Philip Stinson performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the victim for 30 minutes until the rescue squad arrived.
*Douglas J. Draper of the Reston-Great Falls Veterinary Clinic, who was cited for his service to the police department's canine section. Draper has helped treat numerous dogs injured in the line of duty.
*Brett D. Sarkissian, Woodbridge, who helped establish an electronic bulletin board for the McLean District's Neighborhood Watch program, which gives residents a current listing of crimes in their area.
Police are withholding the name of a juvenile who received the 18th award at the ceremony. They said the youth was recognized for providing police with information that led to solving several crimes in his neighborhood.