PITTSBURGH, PA, April 7, 2011 — In its first award announcement of 2011, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 20 individuals from throughout the United States and Canada as recipients of the CARNEGIE MEDAL. The medal is given to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.
The heroes announced today bring to 9,432 the total number of awards since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission President Mark Laskow stated that each of the awardees or their next of kin will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 107 years since the Fund was established by industrialist- philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $33.1 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.
One of the awards is being made posthumously. Carmen F. DeGregorio, Jr., of Millville, N.J., died two days after rescuing a woman from an assault in Millville. DeGregorio kept the assailant from abducting the woman by car but then was struck down by the car as he and the woman fled.
The latest awardees are:
- Michael S. Hatfield, Richland, Wash.
- Scott J. Oak, Tacoma, Wash.
- Joseph W. Hughart, Fort Gibson, Okla.
- Lauren Winstead, Collierville, Tenn.
- Kenneth M. Goss, Grand Junction, Colo.
- Robert T. Schmidt, Eden Prairie, Minn.
- Paul A. Ansolabehere, Minnetonka, Minn.
- Ryan P. Van Wave, Saint Charles, Mo.
- Jason Mitchell Norman, North Wilkesboro, N.C.
- Carmen F. DeGregorio, Jr., deceased, Millville, N.J.
- Michael L. Noriega, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
- John David Pearce, Fort Erie, Ont.
- Timothy McCarthy, Overland Park, Kan.
- Orville D. Clinton, Salina, Kan.
- Jay S. Huscher, Salina, Kan.
- Troy Allen Reinert, Salina, Kan.
- David L. Braga, Modesto, Calif.
- Roger Randolph Lang, Corona, Calif.
- Theophilus I. Joseph, San Bernardino, Calif.
- Carlos S. Valles, Sparks, Nev.
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
Michael S. Hatfield
Scott J. Oak
Michael S. Hatfield saved Alexandra C. Hatley from burning, and Scott J. Oak saved Taylor L. Tefft, Pasco, Washington, October 5, 2009. Alexandra, 12, and Taylor, 11, were passengers in an automobile that was involved in an accident on an interstate highway. The car immediately caught fire, as did the other vehicle, located about 10 feet away, that was involved in the collision. Severely injured and rendered unconscious, the girls remained in the vehicle as flames issued from its undercarriage, Alexandra lying on the rear seat and Taylor in the front seat, trapped by wreckage. One of the motorists who stopped at the scene, Hatfield, 45, training specialist, approached the driver’s side of the car containing the girls. He leaned into it through the rear door and worked to free Alexandra from her safety belt. Hatfield then lifted her, pulled her from the vehicle, and carried her to the median as flames grew quickly to enter the car’s back-seat area. Meanwhile, Oak, 34, an off-duty police officer from another municipality, had also stopped at the scene. He approached the passenger side of the burning car, leaned through the window of its front door, and maneuvered Taylor to free her. He then pulled her through the window and carried her to the median. Flames spread to engulf the car. Both girls were taken to the hospital, where Alexandra died of her injuries the next day and Taylor died the following day. Oak also received hospital treatment, for smoke inhalation and burns to his arms. He recovered.
83266-9413 / 82618-9414
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Joseph W. Hughart
Fort Gibson, Oklahoma
Joseph W. Hughart rescued Ray M. Williams, Jr., from burning, Haskell, Oklahoma, March 19, 2010. Williams, 33, was the driver of a pickup truck that, at night, left the highway, struck a culvert, and came to rest upright in a ditch. Severely injured in the accident, Williams retained consciousness but was trapped by his legs in the wreckage. Flames broke out at the front of the truck and spread, entering its interior. Driving by, Hughart, 39, sheriff’s deputy, saw the flames and stopped at the scene. After attempting without success to open the truck’s driver’s door, he struck the window of that door with his flashlight until the window broke. Hughart then pulled on Williams as he started to emerge through the window opening, but Williams remained trapped. Hughart pulled himself up to a position on the driver’s door and, standing on the base of the window, straddled Williams. Although Williams greatly outweighed him, Hughart pulled on him until he became free of the wreckage. The men fell to the ground, where Hughart rolled Williams away from the truck until others arrived to help move him farther away. Flames shortly engulfed the vehicle. Williams required lengthy hospitalization for treatment of his injuries, which included third-degree burns. Hughart also was treated at the hospital, for a laceration to his right arm that required staples. He recovered.
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Lauren Winstead helped to save Eddie L. Torres from drowning, Destin, Florida, July 5, 2009. When Torres, 53, left his party’s boat to swim in Choctawhatchee Bay at a point about two miles from shore, a strong ebb current flowing into the Gulf of Mexico pulled him away from the boat. A friend swam to him and supported him while shouting for help; unbeknownst to the men, their party’s boat was disabled. Lauren, 12, student, also had entered the water to swim and was drifting away. She was able to return against the current toward the boat, from which her mother threw boat bumpers into the water for use as flotation devices. Retrieving one of the bumpers, Lauren turned and swam a considerable distance to Torres and his friend. As the friend then left to return to the boat, Lauren helped Torres stay afloat with use of the bumper. The distance between them and their boat increasing, they attempted to swim ashore but made little progress. The boat’s operator had called the Coast Guard, which sent a rescue boat to the scene. Torres, Lauren, and the friend were taken aboard that boat and returned to safety.
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Kenneth M. Gross
Grand Junction, Colorado
Kenneth M. Goss saved David S., Judi M., Silas D., and Jachin S. Broadbent from drowning, Moab, Utah, April 9, 2010. David, 33, and his wife, Judi, 32, were rafting on the Colorado River with their sons, Silas, 3, and Jachin, 11 months, when their raft overturned while negotiating a set of rapids. They were thrown into the swift, 54-degree water and separated from the raft. Carried downstream, Judi held to the boys, and David attempted to flip the raft over. Goss, 38, delivery driver, was driving along the river at the scene when he saw the overturned raft and the nearby victims. Ascertaining from them that they needed help, Goss descended to the riverbank and entered the water. He swam about 200 feet to catch up to the victims, reaching Judi and the boys at a point about 100 feet from the bank. Goss seized the raft, which was nearby, and made it available to Judi and then David, both of whom also grasped it. They returned to the bank, Goss swimming with one arm while towing the raft, and exited the water to safety. Goss, who had swallowed water, collapsed from exhaustion and required hospital treatment for hypothermia, as did Jachin. They recovered.
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Robert T. Schmidt
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Paul A. Ansolabehere
Robert T. Schmidt and Paul A. Ansolabehere saved Robert Fiske from burning, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, October 5, 2009. Fiske, 66, was the lone occupant of a twin-engine airplane that lost power while in flight. The plane crash-landed in a wooded ravine, trapping Fiske inside, and flames broke out at the right side of the fuselage, near the wing. Schmidt, 64, real estate developer, was in his nearby home and heard the crash. He ran to the scene and, seeing Fiske inside the plane, mounted the left wing. Schmidt tried to gain access to the smoke-filled cabin by attempting to open its canopy and breaking out a window, but he was not successful. Meanwhile, Ansolabehere, 45, business executive, had followed the stricken plane’s course while traveling in the vicinity. He then ran into the ravine and joined Schmidt on the wing, where he too attempted to break into the cabin. The two men then obtained a metal bar from the plane’s nearby storage compartment and with it broke through the window. They then reached inside the plane and pulled Fiske out onto the wing. Flames had grown to reach into the trees, and they breached the cabin from its right side. Schmidt and Ansolabehere lowered Fiske to the ground and, with the help of others who were responding, carried him from the ravine to safety. Fiske was hospitalized for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash and for smoke inhalation. He recovered. Schmidt had lacerations to his hands, and Ansolabehere sustained puncture wounds to a hand, minor burns to his face, and singed hair. They too recovered.
82626-9418 / 82916-9419
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Ryan P. Van Wave
Saint Charles, Missouri
Ryan P. Van Wave rescued Joshua A. Perkins from burning, O’Fallon, Missouri, March 8, 2010. Perkins, 23, was the driver of an automobile that, at night, left the roadway, struck a traffic signal box, and came to rest on its passenger side. Flames broke out at the front end of the vehicle and began to spread inside. On patrol nearby, Van Wave, 27, police officer, responded to the scene. Learning that the vehicle was occupied, he opened its rear hatch door, entered partially, and extended an arm to Perkins, who was sitting on the passenger side of the vehicle, his back against the roof. When Perkins did not respond, Van Wave fully entered the car and moved toward him. He grasped Perkins, hugged him to himself, and then backed toward the hatch door, pulling Perkins. They exited to safety as flames spread inside the vehicle. Aided by others, Van Wave carried Perkins farther from the car. Perkins, who sustained minor burns to his face, was hospitalized for injuries sustained in the crash.
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Jason Mitchell Norman
North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Jason Mitchell Norman rescued Linda J. Call from burning, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, October 26, 2009. Call, 61, was in a bed in the living room of her house after fire erupted in the back of the structure. Flames spread and grew to issue from the house, attracting the attention of Norman, 28, heating and cooling systems installer, who was driving in the neighborhood. Norman stopped at the scene and learned Call’s location from her caregiver, who was outside the house. He kicked open the front door and stepped into the living room, into which flames had spread and where dense smoke limited visibility. Repelled by smoke, he exited the house but then pulled his coat over his head and re-entered. He moved forward on his knees, arms extended, and located the bed in which Call lay unconscious. He pushed the bed closer to the front door and then lifted Call from it and took her outside. With flames spreading inside the structure, Norman joined a neighbor in removing Call’s husband from a bedroom window at the side of the house. Call required extensive hospitalization for treatment of burns. Norman also received hospital treatment, for smoke inhalation, and he recovered.
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Carmen F. DeGregorio, Jr., deceased
Millville, New Jersey
Carmen F. DeGregorio, Jr., died after rescuing Shatora Jenkins-Thomas from assault, Millville, New Jersey, November 27, 2007. Jenkins-Thomas, 24, jumped from a moving car during a domestic dispute with her boyfriend, who was driving, and ran into the parking lot of a nearby convenience store. The boyfriend followed her in the car, caught up with her, and attempted to force her into the car’s trunk. DeGregorio, 51, towing dispatcher, who was nearby, intervened. A retired police officer, he struggled against the assailant, preventing him from shutting the trunk’s lid on Jenkins-Thomas, and freed her from the trunk. Jenkins-Thomas and DeGregorio fled as the assailant pursued them in the car. At DeGregorio’s urging, Jenkins-Thomas ran to the convenience store and to safety inside while DeGregorio ran in another direction. The assailant chased DeGregorio and struck him with the car, knocking him to the pavement. The car then crashed into a barrier, and the assailant fled on foot. He was arrested shortly. Jenkins-Thomas sustained abrasions about her body that required hospital treatment. DeGregorio was hospitalized but died two days later of his injuries.
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Michael L. Noriega
Manhattan Beach, California
Michael L. Noriega helped to save Lucille Meistrell from burning, Manhattan Beach, California, November 5, 2009. Meistrell, 92, was in her bedroom in her one-story house after fire broke out in that room late at night. Her caregiver discovered the fire and was able to move her from the room and into the hall. Noriega, 56, county manager, lived next door. Alerted to the fire, he entered the house through its front door, proceeded through smoke to the hall, and located the women. Noriega grasped Meistrell and with difficulty started to remove her. Needing air, he retreated to the front door, as did the caregiver. They shortly re-entered the house and returned to the hall. Grasping Meistrell, they maneuvered her through the hall, across the living room, and out through
the front door as police and firefighters were arriving. Meistrell and the caregiver were taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. Noriega inhaled smoke and was examined at the scene. He recovered.
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John David Pearce
Fort Erie, Ontario
John David Pearce saved Mary C. Barnes from drowning, Fort Erie, Ontario, June 15, 2008. Barnes, 57, was fishing from the bank of the Niagara River when she fell into the water and was swept downstream by the very swift current. Pearce, 52, stationary engineer, was in his home near the scene when he became aware of the situation. Knowing the strength of the current, Pearce got into his vehicle and drove about 1,000 feet downstream to a point at which he thought he might intercept her. Parking, he saw Barnes in that vicinity, at a point about 180 feet from the bank. Pearce went to the bank, removed his shoes, and waded and swam out to Barnes. Telling her to roll onto her back, Pearce grasped Barnes around the chin with one arm and with the other began to swim back to the bank, Barnes in tow. The current carried them about 400 feet farther downstream as Pearce swam. Nearing the bank, he called out for help, and a man entered the river and aided them to safety. Barnes was treated at the hospital for minor injury, and she recovered.
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Overland Park, Kansas
Timothy McCarthy rescued Benjamin M. Denham from burning, Overland Park, Kansas, March 16, 2010. At night, the automobile in which Denham, 18, and two friends were traveling left the street and struck an electric power pole and then the corner of a house before coming to a stop upright in a yard. Flames erupted on the car. McCarthy, 22, a service technician who lived nearby, heard the crash and ran to the scene. Flames covered the back of the car and most of its interior, sparing only the driver’s seat, where Denham remained, semiconscious. McCarthy reached through the broken window of the driver’s door, grasped Denham, and pulled him out of the vehicle. The clothing on Denham’s upper body was aflame, and McCarthy, aided by another man who had responded, patted his clothing and rolled him on the ground to extinguish the flames. Denham required extensive hospitalization for treatment of severe burns. His friends did not survive the accident. McCarthy suffered burns to his right hand, for which he was treated at the hospital. He recovered.
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Orville D. Clinton
Jay S. Huscher
Troy Allen Reinert
Orville D. Clinton and Jay S. Huscher saved Tanner S. Porter from burning and with Troy Allen Reinert saved Tyler L. B. Sunderlin, Salina, Kansas, February 20, 2010. Porter, 18, was the driver of a car that collided with a pickup truck and left the roadway. It came to rest upright in a pasture, and flames broke out in its front end. Porter remained conscious but was trapped in the front-seat area of the wreckage, as was a passenger, Sunderlin, 18, who had been rendered unconscious. Clinton, 58, production worker who lived nearby, drove upon the scene. He reported the accident and then ran to the burning car. Huscher, 56, aircraft worker, also lived nearby; hearing the accident, he too reported it and then ran to the scene. Clinton removed pieces of the windshield and pulled on the dash to free Porter as Huscher attempted to fight the growing flames with a piece of the wreckage. They then opened the driver’s door, reached inside, and pulled Porter out, learning from him that Sunderlin was in the burning car. After taking Porter to safety, the men returned to the car and again reached inside through the driver’s door, for Sunderlin, whom they found trapped by wreckage. Reinert, 37, business operator, had arrived by then. He leaned through the window of the passenger door and worked to free Sunderlin as flames grew and spread both toward the passenger side and inside the vehicle, to the dash. After the men freed Sunderlin, Clinton and Huscher pulled him from the car and then, joined by Reinert, carried him to safety. Flames grew quickly to engulf and destroy the vehicle. Porter and Sunderlin were hospitalized for treatment of their injuries, requiring surgery, but they were not burned. Clinton suffered cuts to his hands but did not require medical treatment, and he recovered.
82973-9425 / 82974-9426 / 82975-9427
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David L. Braga
David L. Braga saved a girl from burning, Merced, California, February 18, 2010. A 1-year-old girl was in her family’s second-floor apartment after fire broke out in the unit’s bedroom. Her mother escaped the apartment with another child and shouted for help. Braga, 32, window tinter, who lived nearby, was walking near the scene and saw smoke issuing from the building. He responded to the front of the apartment, where he learned that the girl was inside. Braga kicked open the apartment door and entered, but dense smoke forced him out. He removed his shirt, held it to his face, and entered the apartment again. Moving on his stomach, and aided by the light from his cellular telephone, Braga advanced through the smoke toward the living room, en route passing the bedroom as flames extended through its doorway. Braga followed the sound of the girl’s voice to find her on a couch in the living room. He grasped and cradled her in his arms and then turned and, on his knees, went back to the apartment door and exited the unit. Braga handed the girl to her mother. After being assisted down the stairs to the ground, he collapsed. He was given oxygen at the scene and then was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, as was the girl. They recovered.
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Roger Randolf Lang
Theophilus I. Joseph
San Bernadino, California
Roger Randolph Lang and Theophilus I. Joseph rescued a woman from assault, Norco, California, April 4, 2009. A 31-year-old woman was alone inside the tanning salon she operated when a man entered and, threatening her with a knife, forced her to the floor in a back room. She screamed, attracting the attention of Lang, 47, tax preparer, who was in an office of an adjoining business with a client, Joseph, 41, off-duty police officer. Lang ran into the salon and to its back room, where he saw the assault. He grasped the assailant, who then turned on him. The men struggled for control of the weapon, Lang sustaining multiple knife wounds. Joseph also responded from the office, and he joined in the struggle. He ended up on the floor, the assailant atop him, as he too fought for control of the knife. The men disarmed the assailant, who then broke away and fled the building. Joseph pursued him through the parking lot, tackled him, and held him until police arrived and arrested him. The woman was not injured. Lang was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for an abrasion to his forehead and lacerations that required suturing.
83150-9429 / 83152-9430
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Carlos S. Valles
Carlos S. Valles rescued a woman from burning, Reno, Nevada, April 17, 2010. A 54-year-old woman was in her apartment, which was on the first floor of a two-story building, after fire broke out in one of the unit’s bedrooms at night. The apartment filled with dense smoke, and flames breached the bedroom window and issued to the second floor. First responders included Valles, 32, police officer, who was informed by neighbors that the woman remained inside the unit. Valles entered the apartment through its open front door and despite the dense smoke, which severely limited visibility, crawled about 20 feet, or to where he found the woman lying on the floor near the burning bedroom. He stood and attempted to carry her, but the smoke forced him back to the floor. Grasping the woman by a wrist, Valles dragged her to the front door and then outside to safety. The woman required hospital treatment for her injuries, including burns.
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