In the cool early morning hours of March 15, Melody Lee Hose stood alone on a barren road near Hagerstown and for a while thought she was the only person alive.
She had just finished working the night shift at a Hagerstown tanning company and was driving westbound on Md. 68 west of Williamsport in a caravan with three other co-workers about 6 a.m., when a pickup truck in their caravan crossed a double yellow line to pass.
"I don't know why she tried to pass, but she did," said Hose, 19, of Williamsport. "And she tried to pass at the top of a hill. At the top of the hill, she met the other car and, well, that was it."
The pickup and the car met head-on -- both at high rates of speed -- scattering pieces of both vehicles over the road and into nearby yards.
The female driver of the car was killed instantly. The driver of the pickup -- a woman who had only recently started work at the tannery -- was hanging limp and nearly lifeless over the truck door.
Hose and two other co-workers, Dennis Michael Hull of Clear Spring and Mary Louise Hill of Hancock, pulled the woman from the truck minutes before it exploded.
The three were among 22 Marylanders honored yesterday by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services for their lifesaving deeds as part of National Emergency Medical Services Week.
"The truck skidded and actually rolled on its hood. It had started to catch fire and the seat was burning," said Hose. "She was just on the door hanging out. She was conscious, though."
Hose, who was the first one to reach the scene, said she was in "a panic" when she first looked at the wreckage. She unsuccessfully searched for a pulse of the car driver -- a woman she knows only as "Mrs. Jackson."
Then she heard moans coming from the truck. "She [her co-worker] was saying grumbling things like, 'I hope I didn't kill anybody. Please, I hope no one is hurt.' I told her I was not medically able to say for sure if anyone was hurt. But I knew that wasn't true."
During the few seconds she stood alone amid the wreckage, Hose said no one in nearby houses came out and no motorist passed.
"Maybe they didn't know about what had happened," she said. "I was screaming and crying, but no one knew anything. I looked at one car and there was a dead woman. In the truck, there was a woman bloodied and hanging out of the window. It was like there was no one else alive anywhere. There were all of these houses and nobody was coming out."
She tried to pull her co-worker from the truck by herself, but couldn't. After what seemed to be an eternity, Hose's co-workers Hull and Hill drove up.
Together, they pulled the woman from the truck soon before it exploded.
Hull, 39, said he was not sure how long it would be before the truck exploded, but his only concern was getting the woman out of the truck.
"The fire was just starting to get bigger," he recalled. "It was coming right up the front seat and getting closer to her."
The driver of the pickup, whose name was not disclosed, was hospitalized briefly and has since returned to work at the tannery.
Since the accident, Hose has traveled Md. 68 only once -- during a re-enactment for the insurance company.
"And I don't plan to ride on it anymore. Ever," she said.