PITTSBURGH, PA, APRIL 22, 2004—In its second award announcement of 2004, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 17 individuals as recipients of the CARNEGIE MEDAL. The bronze medal is given to persons throughout the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.
The heroes announced today bring to 36 the number of persons who have been recognized by the Commission in 2004 and to 8,800 the total number since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission President Mark Laskow stated that each of the awardees also will receive a grant of $3,500. Throughout the 100 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $27 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.
The awardees are:
- Paul J. Archambault, Corona, Calif.
- John Augustus Rose II, Upland, Calif.
- Wanda M. Blackburn, Red Bluff, Calif.
- David Bryan Bowery, Kingsport, Tenn.
- Jose Valerio Flores, Lompoc, Calif.
- James Robert Burwell, Tuscon, Ariz.
- Randy D. Corder, Marana, Ariz.
- Floyd O. Pollard, Smelterville, Idaho
- Patrick A. Haug, Modesto, Calif.
- John Lynn King, Modesto, Calif.
- Jon F. Kirkleski, Beachwood, N.J.
- Shaun Michael Meyers, Silver Spring, Md.
- Tyrone D. Neville, Forestville, Md.
- Charles E. Norman, Potsdam, N.Y.
- Kevin Arnold Grayson, Triangle, Va.
- John A. Seger, Nahant, Mass.
- Michael G. Jacome, Spencer, Mass.
Resumes of the acts follow. To nominate someone for the CARNEGIE MEDAL, write the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, 436 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1101, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, or call 1-800-447-8900 (toll free). Fuller information on the CARNEGIE MEDAL and the history of the CARNEGIE HERO FUND COMMISSION can be found at www.carnegiehero.org
Paul J. Archambault
John Augustus Rose II
Paul J. Archambault and John Augustus Rose II saved Sigrid Szymczak-Hopson from burning, Azusa, California, September 1, 2002. Ms. Szymczak-Hopson, 70, was at her cabin in the San Gabriel Canyon of the Angeles National Forest when a forest fire broke out about three miles away and began to advance in that direction. Authorities evacuated the canyon of its residents and visitors, but Ms. Szymczak-Hopson was reluctant to leave. The sheriff’s department learned that she remained in the path of the fire, and two of its deputies, Archambault, 43, and Rose, 32, elected to respond. Archambault driving, the men took a sport utility vehicle on the only road into the canyon, defying both a roadblock that had been established by firefighters and warnings that the road was impassable. The first part of their 8.5-mile route was through an area over which the fire had already passed but where hot spots remained, flames flaring then receding on either side and debris littering the roadway. About a half-mile from the cabin, the road narrowed to one lane, with a 300-foot drop to the side. Flame conditions were more severe there, and dense smoke reduced visibility to only a few feet. Archambault pulled the vehicle into a parking lot near the cabin and kept it moving to avoid engine failure as Rose ran 650 feet to the cabin, where he found Ms. Szymczak-Hopson. After Rose returned to the vehicle with her, Archambault pulled back onto the roadway, where conditions were deteriorating: Visibility was further limited and intense heat made its way into the vehicle. They navigated the narrow portion of the roadway, then continued toward safety until one of the vehicle’s tires flattened, about four miles from the roadblock. Another flattened shortly after, and the rest of the vehicle showed extensive fire- and debris-related damage. Firefighters responded shortly and took them to safety; neither Ms. Szymczak-Hopson nor Archambault and Rose was injured. The fire burned for 13 days over more than 20,000 acres before it was contained.
76982-8784 / 76983-8785
Back to Top
Wanda M. Blackburn
Red Bluff, California
Wanda M. Blackburn saved Peggy Henry from burning, Red Bluff, California, March 26, 2003. Ms. Henry, 90, was in the master bedroom at one end of her mobile home after fire broke out in the nearby bathroom. Flames grew and broke through the structure in that end. In her home across the street, Ms. Blackburn, 42, data entry clerk, was alerted to the fire. Barefoot, she immediately responded to the scene, where she entered the home’s front door to dense smoke and intense heat inside. She ran to the master bedroom, which was aflame, and found Ms. Henry sitting on the bed. She picked Ms. Henry up and returned to the front door with her, flames spreading quickly to engulf and destroy the structure. Neither woman was injured.
Back to Top
David Bryan Bowery
David Bryan Bowery saved Juliann B. Farmer from drowning, Kingsport, Tennessee, July 5, 2003. Juliann, 2, fell into the Holston River and was carried 600 feet downstream by the very swift current. As she approached, she was spotted by people on the deck of a riverside restaurant, including Bowery, 32, financial advisor. Bowery immediately jumped from the deck, ran to the river, and, stepping onto a submerged rock, leapt into the water. He swam toward the middle of the river and intercepted Juliann at a point about 25 feet out. Grasping her and pulling her to him, Bowery returned toward the bank, the current taking them farther downstream. He reached the bank with Juliann, handed her over to a paramedic who was present, then left the water. Juliann was hospitalized three days for treatment of water in her lungs, and she recovered. Bowery sustained scrapes to his arms and legs and other minor effect but he recovered shortly.
Back to Top
Jose Valerio Flores
Jose Valerio Flores saved a child from burning, Lompoc, California, November 17, 2002. Marissa Vargas, 3, and her brother Jullian, 1, were in their family’s house after fire broke out in the laundry room at night and filled the one-story structure with dense smoke. Visiting a neighbor, Flores, 21, cabinet installer, saw smoke issuing from the burning house. He attempted to open its front door but found it locked. Awakened to the fire, the five other members of Marissa’s and Jullian’s family fled the house through the front door. Realizing that not all of the children were accounted for, Flores and the children’s father entered the house, where dense smoke precluded visibility except at floor level. Flores crawled into the living room, where he saw one of the children about 10 feet from the door. He reached the child, grasped it, then stood and, carrying the child, returned to the door and outside to safety. The children’s father saved the other child. Marissa, Jullian, and the rest of their family required hospital treatment for smoke inhalation. Flores was given oxygen at the scene then was taken to the hospital, where he too was treated for smoke inhalation. He recovered.
Back to Top
James Robert Burwell
Randy D. Corder
James Robert Burwell and Randy D. Corder saved Donald L. Bates from burning, Tucson, Arizona, April 25, 2003. Bates, 72, was the driver of a car that, while stopped at an intersection, was struck from behind by another car. Its fuel tank ruptured, Bates’s car burst into flame and was pushed into the intersection, Bates remaining in the driver’s seat, unconscious. Also stopped at the intersection, motorists Burwell, 41, motorcycle salesman, and Corder, 50, health care giver, witnessed the accident. Despite flames issuing from the rear and along the driver’s side of Bates’s car and from the pavement in those areas, they went to the passenger side, where Burwell leaned through the opened window and attempted to pull Bates out. He could move Bates only part way across the seat before he backed out for air. Corder then leaned through the window in a rescue attempt, but he too withdrew. The men then leaned into the car together, and, with Burwell grasping Bates’s lower body and Corder grasping his arms and shirt, they pulled him, head first, through the window. A responding police officer helped them carry Bates to the sidewalk. Bates required hospital treatment for minor injuries, but he was not burned. Burwell and Corder each sustained a burn to his forehead, and they recovered.
76867-8789 / 76866-8790
Back to Top
Floyd O. Pollard
Floyd O. Pollard rescued Vaughn Gaschet de l’Isle from burning, Kingston, Idaho, June 29, 2003. Gaschet de l’Isle, 57, was the driver of a pickup truck that, in a highway accident, left the roadway and partially overturned onto its passenger side against an embankment. The pickup had been towing a 31foot recreational vehicle, and it too overturned. Fire broke out at the back of the truck, and flames spread to the cab and the front of the recreational vehicle. Pollard, 35, disabled logger, was driving on a nearby overpass when he witnessed the accident. He climbed over a guide rail and descended the embankment to the level of the highway, then approached the pickup. Gaschet de l’Isle had removed his safety belt but could not open the truck’s driver’s door, which was jammed. Pollard likewise tried to open the door, then he attempted to break out its window, again with no success. Pollard mounted the truck’s hood and attempted to pull out the windshield, but he cut his hands on the glass. He then kicked out the windshield and moved it aside. Gaschet de l’Isle extended his arms through the opening, and Pollard grasped them and pulled him out of the cab, onto the hood. After they stepped to the ground, Pollard helped Gaschet de l’Isle walk away from the truck, which was shortly engulfed by flames. Gaschet de l’Isle sustained a slight burn to an ear and other minor injuries and was treated at the hospital. Pollard recovered from the lacerations to his hands.
Back to Top
Patrick A. Haug
John Lynn King
Patrick A. Haug and John Lynn King rescued James J. Norton and Aubrey K. Woodbridge from burning, Modesto, California, March 5, 2003. James, 17, was the driver, and Aubrey, 15, the passenger, of a pickup truck that was struck by another vehicle in an intersection. The truck spun across the highway and struck a utility pole, where it burst into flame. Stopped in their vehicles at the intersection, Haug, 42, caterer, and King, 37, business operator, witnessed the accident. They ran to the driver’s side of the truck, where they grasped James and pulled him through the broken-out window of the driver’s door, then placed him on the pavement. Flames had entered the pickup’s cab, setting fire to Aubrey’s jeans. She screamed, attracting Haug’s and King’s attention. They returned to the window, grasped Aubrey, and pulled her from the pickup, then set her on the pavement and extinguished the flames on her clothing. Haug and King then moved James and Aubrey farther away from the truck as flames on it grew. James and Aubrey were taken to the hospital, where each was treated for injury sustained in the accident, and Aubrey for burns to her lower legs. They recovered. Haug and King sustained minor burns to their arms.
76755-8792 / 76756-8793
Back to Top
Jon F. Kirkleski
Beachwood, New Jersey
Jon F. Kirkleski saved Stefan G. Schenck from burning, Bayville, New Jersey, February 26, 2003. Schenck, 33, remained in the cab of his pickup truck after an accident in which the vehicle left the highway, went down an embankment into the wooded median, and overturned onto its passenger side. Another motorist, Kirkleski, 41, carpenter, witnessed the accident and stopped at the scene. He descended the embankment to the vehicle, the engine of which was still running. Kirkleski turned the engine off and was tending to Schenck when flames erupted at the front of the pickup. He kicked out the vehicle’s back window, stepped inside the cab, and freed Schenck’s legs, which were trapped. He then grasped Schenck about the shoulders and stepped through the window, pulling him. Not fully conscious, Schenck was unable to walk, and Kirkleski dragged him partway up the embankment, his progress impeded by Schenck’s greater weight. Flames grew higher and spread to the rest of the pickup. Schenck regained consciousness, and he and Kirkleski ran the remaining distance to safety. Schenck was hospitalized for treatment of injuries received in the accident, and he recovered.
Back to Top
Shaun Michael Meyers
Silver Spring, Maryland
Tyrone D. Neville
Shaun Michael Meyers and Tyrone D. Neville saved Hilda G. Wittkamp from being struck by a train, Beltsville, Maryland, January 25, 2003. Ms. Wittkamp, 81, was in the front passenger seat of a car that, in an accident at night, left the roadway and became stranded on the bed of two railroad tracks. Witnessing the accident, several motorists, including Meyers, 41, contractor, and Neville, 31, security officer, immediately responded to the car, which was positioned across the tracks. Meyers and Neville opened the front passenger door and tended to Ms. Wittkamp while others responded to the aid of her husband, who had been driving. When the headlight of a train, fast approaching on the far track, came into view, Meyers attempted to remove Ms. Wittkamp from the car but found that she was restrained by her safety belt. As others led her husband away, he freed Ms. Wittkamp from the safety belt, then he and Neville removed her from the car and carried her off the tracks. Within moments the train arrived and struck the front of the car. Ms. Wittkamp was taken to the hospital, where she was detained six days for treatment of her injuries.
76561-8795 / 76978-8796
Back to Top
Charles E. Norman
Potsdam, New York
Charles E. Norman helped to save Matthew J. McKeon from burning, Colton, New York, November 6, 2002. McKeon, 30, was driver of a tractor-trailer that caught fire after a highway accident involving a dump truck. He stepped from the tractor and fell to the pavement as fuel from the overturned trailer’s load of 8,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel escaped to the highway, then to the lot of an adjacent convenience store. Other motorists stopped at the scene, including Norman, 59, equipment operator, who witnessed the accident. Norman ran to the tractor, despite flames on it and on the pavement nearby, then seized McKeon by his collar and dragged him to the shoulder of the highway. He was aided in taking McKeon farther to safety, flames spreading to engulf and destroy the tractor-trailer, the dump truck, and another vehicle that was parked nearby. McKeon required hospital treatment for his injuries.
Back to Top
Kevin Arnold Grayson
Kevin Arnold Grayson rescued Susan G. Fice from a runaway vehicle, Woodbridge, Virginia, March 26, 2003. Ms. Fice, 55, was unconscious in the driver’s seat of a minivan after a highway accident in which the vehicle was struck from behind. Out of control, the minivan continued forward on the multilane highway toward oncoming traffic. Grayson, 34, route salesman, was stopped in traffic nearby when he witnessed the accident. He left his vehicle and chased after the minivan, catching up to it on its driver’s side as it neared the intersection of another multilane highway. He opened the driver’s door, grasped the steering wheel for balance, and placed his right foot inside. Moving on only his left foot to keep up with the minivan, Grayson stepped on the vehicle’s emergency brake pedal, taking the minivan to a stop as it began to enter the intersection. Ms. Fice was taken to the hospital, where she was detained five weeks for treatment of her injuries.
Back to Top
John A. Seger
John A. Seger helped to save Deborah G. Savage from burning, Nahant, Massachusetts, November 13, 2002. At night, Ms. Savage, 45, lay unconscious in the hallway of her one-story house after fire erupted in the basement and spread to the main floor. A neighbor, Seger, 41, architect, responded to the scene and joined others, including a police officer, in their attempts to locate her. Seger opened a bedroom window, then, hearing Ms. Savage moan, climbed through it. Although visibility was nil in the smoke-filled house, he crawled through the bedroom and into the hall, where he located Ms. Savage. Repulsed by smoke, however, he returned to the window for air. The officer gave him a flashlight, and Seger retraced his path to Ms. Savage. He dragged her to the bedroom window but struggled when he attempted to pass her through it. Nearly overcome by smoke, Seger climbed through the window. The officer entered the house through the window and passed Ms. Savage outside to others. She was then taken to the hospital for treatment.
Back to Top
Michael G. Jacome
Michael G. Jacome saved Alain Lecomte from burning, Spencer, Massachusetts, September 24, 2002. Lecomte, 29, lay unconscious in the cab of a tractor-trailer after an accident in which the rig left the roadway, struck a utility pole, and caught fire at its front end. The pole broke, dropping electrical lines over the tractor, and diesel fuel escaped from the tractor’s tanks, one of which was ruptured. Jacome, 27, welder, was standing on the sidewalk across the street and witnessed the accident. He went to the driver’s side of the tractor, opened the door, and stepped up into the cab, which was aflame along the opposite side. With difficulty, he pulled Lecomte back into the driver’s seat, then freed him from his safety belt. Jacome stepped down from the cab to the pavement, then reached up, grasped Lecomte, and pulled him from the vehicle, onto his shoulder. Two men who had approached helped him carry Lecomte to safety as flames spread to engulf the tractor. Lecomte was taken to the hospital but was not seriously injured.
Back to Top