Five repairers who helped save a driver trapped in his vehicle after a wreck last June were recently honored by the National Auto Body Council (NABC) at a special ceremony held at the International Autobody Congress & Exposition in Las Vegas. 

Richard Gabianelli, John Kurze, Ricardo Perez, Gene Scheithe and Mark Pellino each received the NABC’s Pride award, which recognizes people who selflessly donate their time, energy and financial resources to worthy causes outside the collision industry.

The men, who work at neighboring body shops in the Bridgeport, Conn., area, are credited with saving the life of the driver, who lost control of his car and crashed into a construction trailer. Their local police also honored them in July at a Board of Police Commissioners meeting.

"The Pride awards are for people who do things above and beyond," said NABC Secretary Janet Chaney said. "They did something to save someone’s life. It doesn’t get any better than that."

People or groups associated with repair shops, car makers, suppliers, vendors and insurance companies are among those eligible for nomination.

Though none of the five honorees were on hand in Las Vegas to collect their awards, all were pleased to be recognized for lending a helping hand.

"It feels good," said Gabianelli, owner of Gabby’s Auto Body, which employs Kurze. "We were not looking for anything to come out of it.

"Just rescuing a guy from a burning car is good for me. I hope anyone else would do it."

Scheithe, owner of Gene’s Auto Body, said he, Pellino and Perez are honored that they were chosen.

"It’s nice of them to think of us," Scheithe said.

Three other individuals were also recognized with a Pride award: James Phillip Tanner of Irmo High School in Columbia, South Carolina; Mervyn A. Campbell of Centennial Auto Body in Roosevelt, New York; and Joseph Sanfillipo of USA Collision Centers in Cincinnati, Ohio.