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Pay It Forward: Good Samaritan injured in car explosion

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A man who sprang into action after witnessing a horrifying three-vehicle accident on the Loop 101 is being honored for his courage.

Cliff Faraci had left work on March 14 and was heading to a physical therapy appointment when the accident happened.

"I saw brake lights, cars swerving and debris flying through the air," said Faraci. "I stopped because that's what I'm supposed to do. We're supposed to help each other."

"He obviously saw someone in severe distress, and he put his life out there," said Phoenix Fire Capt. Jonathan Jacobs. "It's amazing, and he's very courageous."

"Immediately he was burned. He was trying to help a young lady out of a car," said friend Candice Lappe. "Not even second-guessing the kind of damage he could do to himself."

Candice Lappe and Faraci have been friends for more than 20 years. They met while in college.

"He's a wonderful man. He will do anything for anyone under any circumstances," Lappe said.

19-year-old Pinnacle High School graduate Shelby Dwyer died in the accident. Faraci rushed to her window and while standing in a puddle of leaking fuel, he reached in to try to turn off her engine.

"I stuck my torso into the car, both arms and my face while talking to Shelby. That's when all the gas fumes ignited and the car erupted. I was engulfed in flames. I ran away from the car, patting away the flames that were on me. My boots were on fire, my pants. (I) turned around, and the car exploded at that point.

"I never realized the jeopardy I was putting myself in," said Faraci. "I had first-degree burns on the tops of both arms, second-degree on the underside of my arms from my wrists to my armpits. My palms were borderline third degree burns."

Before Faraci even realized the extent of his injuries, he and an off-duty Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy helped to rescue three other people from an SUV that was also involved in the accident.

Faraci tells CBS 5 he is guided by his deep faith in God and the Boy Scout principles he teaches his two teenage sons.

He spent a week at the Arizona Burn Center being treated for his injuries.

He will have to spend at least another week recovering at home before he'll be able to return to work.

There is a fund set up at Wells Fargo bank in Faraci's name to help pay for medical expenses. The account number is #7177997074.

If you want to nominate someone for the CBS 5 Pay it Forward segment, click HERE.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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