PITTSBURGH, PA, December 19, 2012—In its fourth and final award announcement of 2012, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 18 individuals as recipients of the CARNEGIE MEDAL. The medal is given throughout the United States and Canada 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 81 the number of awards made in 2012 and to 9,576 the total number since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission President Mark Laskow stated that each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 108 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $34.8 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.
Four of the awardees died in the performance of their heroic acts, including Cynthia L. Riediger, 53, a geologist from Calgary, Ala. Riediger drowned in Lake Erie off Pelee Island, Ont., while helping to save a friend while on vacation with her family. The awardees are:
- Christopher M. Johnson, Bolingbrook, Ill.
- Carl Casey Loando, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Gary Yurkovic, Jr., Carteret, N.J.
- Ione Fletcher Kleven, Castro Valley, Calif.
- Joshua W. Steed, Abilene, Texas
- Thomas Joseph Delgado, Valley Center, Kan.
- Joseph C. Page, Wichita, Kan.
- Jonathan Paul Jones, deceased, Lisbon, Iowa
- Kujtime Ajro, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Nathan James Marling, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Makeda S. Barkley, Lisbon, Iowa
- Ricky D. Clinton, deceased, Mountain Pine, Ark.
- Cynthia L. Riediger, deceased, Calgary, Alta.
- John M. Byrd, Round O, S.C.
- Mark Samuel Dawson, Summerville, S.C.
- Kenneth J. Stephens, Sr., deceased, Dunnellon, Fla.
- Robert Eli Meyer, Kingston, Mass.
- Connor Farland Stotts, Oceanside, Calif.
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
Christopher M. Johnson
Christopher M. Johnson helped to save Quintin Sconyers from drowning, Bolingbrook, Illinois, December 11, 2011. Quintin, 15, broke through the thin ice on a retention pond at a point about 25 feet from the closer bank and was unable to climb from the open water. Alerted to the situation, Johnson, 20, lifeguard, responded to the scene from the nearby aquatic complex where he was employed. After a second lifeguard responded with a rescue tube, Johnson crawled onto the ice with the tube and made his way toward Quintin. As he approached, Quintin submerged. Johnson immediately entered the frigid water, grasped Quintin, and returned him to the surface. After a brief struggle, Quintin held to the rescue tube as Johnson attempted to break a path through the ice to the bank. Firefighters were then arriving, and one of them donned an immersion suit, entered the water, and took both Johnson and Quintin to the bank. They were treated at the scene for hypothermia and then received further treatment at the hospital, Johnson needing treatment also for abrasions. They recovered.
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Carl Casey Loando
Carl Casey Loando saved Helen Choy from burning, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 27, 2011. Choy, 85, was inside her one-story house after fire broke out in an enclosed porch and spread. Loando, 54, land survey technician, was working in the area and responded to the scene after seeing smoke there. He saw Choy’s husband at a doorway in the house’s carport and learned from him that Choy remained inside the burning structure. Loando entered the house through that door, which opened into a hall, and, crawling, penetrated dense smoke, which did not allow visibility. Hearing Choy faintly call for help, he crawled in her direction, reaching her in the hall about 20 feet from the door. Loando stood and, grasping Choy underneath the arms, dragged her to the door and outside to the carport. As he moved her down a ramp to ground level, the line to an oxygen mask that Choy was wearing impeded their progress. Loando’s coworker responded to the carport and removed the line, and he and Loando took Choy the rest of the way down the ramp. Nearly overcome by smoke, Loando exited the carport for air as Choy was taken to safety. Flames grew quickly to engulf the house as well as a car parked in the carport. Choy and Loando both required hospital treatment for smoke inhalation.
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Gary Yurkovic, Jr.
Carteret, New Jersey
Gary Yurkovic, Jr., helped to save a woman from falling, New Brunswick, New Jersey, December 14, 2010. At night, a 53-year-old woman was found suspended from a railroad trestle about 25 feet above a paved street in what was reported to be a suicide attempt. Police, including Yurkovic, 27, responded. From the deck of the trestle, officers reached through a hole in the chain-link fence along the edge of the trestle and grasped the woman. In their struggle to keep her from falling, they experienced difficulty maintaining their holds in the 20-degree air temperature. Fearing that the officers were about to lose their grip of the woman, Yurkovic climbed over the fence and lowered himself to a two-inch-wide ledge along its base. Holding to the fence with one hand, Yurkovic reached down and grasped a sleeve of the woman’s jacket with the other. She was uncooperative as Yurkovic held her against the trestle for several minutes. During that time, another of the officers climbed to the top of the fence, reached over, and secured Yurkovic by his clothing. Firefighters responding in a bucket truck lowered the woman and Yurkovic to the ground. Both were taken to the hospital, where Yurkovic was treated for hypothermia. He recovered.
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Ione Fletcher Kleven
Castro Valley, California
Ione Fletcher Kleven rescued a boy from assault, Castro Valley, California, May 14, 2010. At night, a 14-year-old boy was attacked by three men in a residential neighborhood. They took him to the ground, where they punched and kicked him, and one of the assailants stabbed him three times. The boy screamed for help, attracting the attention of Kleven, 64, portrait artist, who lived nearby. Kleven opened her front door and saw the assault. Screaming, she ran to where the boy lay on the ground, two of the assailants atop him and the third standing close by. She shouted at the assailants to get off the boy and then grasped him by the arm and pulled him to his feet away from the assailants. By then, Kleven’s husband was on the porch, and he too shouted at the assailants. The assailants fled in a nearby car. The boy was hospitalized for a week for treatment of his stab wounds, two to his back and one to his stomach.
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Joshua W. Steed
Joshua W. Steed rescued Jacob B. Allen from assault, Abilene, Texas, September 7, 2011. Allen, 21, was working at the front desk of an office in an apartment complex when a man entered, approached him, and, without provocation, pointed a .38-caliber revolver at him. Allen sought refuge behind a freestanding brick fireplace nearby, but the assailant pursued him from the opposite side and shot at him repeatedly, striking him in the head. Steed, 20, college student, also was working in the office. He picked up a chair and, although access to the office door was open to him, approached the assailant and threw the chair at him, stunning him. As the assailant turned toward Steed, Steed rushed him, grabbing him by the arms and ramming him into a wall. He then threw the assailant to the floor, disabling and disarming him, and secured his weapon. Allen was hospitalized for treatment of his gunshot wound, later requiring surgery. Steed sustained minor bruising, and he recovered.
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Thomas Joseph Delgado
Valley Center, Kansas
Joseph C. Page
Thomas Joseph Delgado and Joseph C. Page saved David D. Ong from burning, Wichita, Kansas, August 31, 2011. Ong, 65, remained in the driver’s seat of his pickup truck after an accident in which the vehicle left the highway, struck the guide rail, and, remaining upright, caught fire. Flames spread along the passenger side and underside of the vehicle and soon reached its engine area and fuel tank. Dense smoke filled the cab. Delgado, 43, deputy sheriff, responded to the scene. He reached through the open window of the driver’s door repeatedly and grabbed Ong in attempts to pull him from the vehicle, but deteriorating conditions, including intense heat, forced him back. Another deputy sheriff, Page, 36, arrived about then and used a fire extinguisher on the front and driver’s side of the truck. He then provided a knife to Delgado, who used it to cut the shoulder strap of Ong’s safety belt. As the two men resumed the attempt to free Ong, a sudden rush of flames forced them back. Returning to the vehicle, flames by then having compromised its fuel tank to allow burning gasoline to flow from it, they reached inside, freed Ong’s grip of the steering wheel, and tugged on him, pulling him with difficulty through the window. They dragged him across the highway to safety seconds before flames engulfed the truck, destroying it. Ong required hospitalization, and his rescuers received hospital treatment for smoke inhalation, from which they recovered.
84328-9564 / 84329-9565
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Jonathan Paul Jones deceased
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Nathan James Marling
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Makeda S. Barkley
Jonathan Paul Jones died helping to save two boys from drowning, Mount Vernon, Iowa, June 19, 2011, and Kujtime Ajro, Nathan James Marling, and Makeda S. Barkley helped in the rescue. The boys, brothers ages 9 and 6, were wading in the Cedar River close to the bank when they lost their footing and were pulled farther out and downstream by a strong current. In another party at the scene, Jones, 41, student, was fishing from the same bank. He immediately entered the water, swam out to the boys, and established a hold on them, but the boys struggled against him. A friend of the boys’ family, Ajro, 29, homemaker, was on the bank, and she too entered the river and swam out to the boys. Ajro took the older boy from Jones and, supporting him, attempted to return him to the bank, but that boy struggled against her as they were pulled downstream. Marling, 18, lifeguard, who also had been fishing at the scene, entered the water and swam to Jones, who by then had submerged. He took the younger boy from Jones, but the boy struggled against him and submerged him repeatedly. Resurfacing, Marling calmed the boy and swam him to the bank. Meanwhile, Makeda, 16, high school student, had responded to the bank from another party at the scene. Seeing that Ajro was having difficulty with the older boy, she entered the river and swam to them. Makeda took the older boy from Ajro and swam him to the bank, and then, with a makeshift flotation device, she returned to Ajro and took her to safety. Ajro, who had swallowed water and was nearly exhausted, required hospital treatment for having nearly drowned, and she recovered. Jones’s body was located the next day and removed from the river. He had drowned.
84125-9566 / 84215-9567 / 84189-9568 / 84216-9569
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Ricky D. Clinton deceased
Mountain Pine, Arkansas
Ricky D. Clinton died attempting to save Tyler J. French from burning, Mountain Pine, Arkansas, September 24, 2011. Tyler, 13, was spending the night at a friend’s house when the house caught fire. Clinton, 49, who was the friend’s father, discovered the fire and alerted the house’s occupants. They made their way to the back door to exit, but Tyler turned back into the house to retrieve an item. He was then heard screaming for help. Clinton re-entered the house. Flames grew, destroying the structure. Firefighters located the bodies of Clinton and Tyler inside; both had died of smoke inhalation.
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Cynthia L. Riediger deceased
Cynthia L. Riediger died helping to save James F. Barker from drowning, Pelee Island, Ontario, August 23, 2010. Swimming in Lake Erie, Barker, 64, experienced difficulty against a strong undertow while attempting to return to the beach. His plight was witnessed by a friend on shore, Riediger, 53, geologist, who directed that help be called. Riediger and Barker’s wife then entered the water with an inflatable float and made their way out to Barker, who was about 165 feet from shore. With Barker’s wife holding him to the float, she and Riediger started to return to the beach, but at some point Riediger became separated from the float. Barker and his wife reached the beach safely. Barker was nearly exhausted, but he recovered. Riediger’s body was recovered from the lake two days later; she had drowned.
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John M. Byrd
Round O, South Carolina
Mark Samuel Dawson
Summerville, South Carolina
John M. Byrd and Mark Samuel Dawson rescued Ronald B. Thompkins from burning, Round O, South Carolina, September 17, 2011. Semiconscious, Thompkins, 35, lay inside his burning car after a nighttime accident in which the vehicle left the highway, overturned onto its driver’s side, and caught fire at its front end. Byrd, 49, pastor, responded to the scene after being alerted to the accident. Approaching the vehicle and seeing Thompkins inside, Byrd reached through the broken-out window of the passenger door. Able to make contact with Thompkins but not to remove him that way, Byrd retreated and, finding a small ball bat, struck the glass of the vehicle’s sunroof repeatedly, breaking it. Flames by then had entered the passenger compartment of the vehicle, at Thompkins’s feet. Byrd reached inside the car, grasped Thompkins by the arms, and pulled him from the flames and partially through the sunroof opening, headfirst. He called for help. A passing motorist who stopped at the scene, Dawson, 37, mechanic, approached, grasped Thompkins, who was aflame, and with Byrd pulled him the rest of the way from the vehicle. They dragged him to safety as flames grew to engulf the car, destroying it. Thompkins was hospitalized for treatment of burns and other injuries, and Byrd was treated at the scene for burns to his hands, from which he recovered.
84378-9572 / 84379-9573
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Kenneth J. Stephens, Sr. deceased
Kenneth J. Stephens, Sr., died after saving Priscilla M. DeLira and attempting to save Pauline R. Yambao from drowning, Ocklawaha, Florida, June 13, 2011. Priscilla, 8, and Yambao, 44, were swimming in Lake Weir not far off a boat that was anchored about 1,500 feet from the closer bank. Aboard the boat were Priscilla’s parents as well as the boat’s operator, Stephens, 55, blast team supervisor, who was Priscilla’s uncle and Yambao’s brother-in-law. Yambao experienced difficulty while swimming and began to struggle with Priscilla, who was wearing a life jacket. Stephens immediately jumped into the water, swam to Priscilla, and returned her to the boat, where her parents took her aboard to safety. Stephens then swam back toward Yambao but submerged suddenly and did not resurface. Yambao had also submerged. Their bodies were recovered from the lake the following day; they had drowned.
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Robert Eli Meyer
Robert Eli Meyer saved Johaun B. Bennett from drowning, Scituate, Massachusetts, May 14, 2011. Playing in knee-deep water off an Atlantic Ocean beach, Johaun, 10, was suddenly taken farther from shore by a strong undertow. In rough water over his depth, he was unable to return to the beach. Working at a property near the scene, Meyer, 28, assistant nursing home administrator, was alerted, He ran to a point on the beach opposite Johaun, where he removed his outer attire. Meyer then entered the 50-degree water and waded and swam through the surf about 300 feet to Johaun. He established a hold on Johaun with one arm and with the other began to swim to shore. Their progress through the rough water was difficult, Meyer struggling to maintain his hold of Johaun and to keep Johaun’s head above the surface, and Meyer took in water and became tired. When they reached wadable water, Meyer carried Johaun toward shore, where others assisted him. Both Meyer and Johaun were cold and tired, but they recovered later that day.
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Connor Farland Stotts
Connor Farland Stotts saved Christian E. Osuna and Karen T. Ainuu from drowning, Oceanside, California, July 31, 2011. While swimming in the Pacific Ocean, Osuna, 18; Karen, 16; and others in their party were carried farther from the beach by a rip current. They struggled to return to shore but made little progress. Connor, 17, high school student, had also been carried out by the current, but he was able to swim against it to wadable water, en route taking one of the girls in the party with him. Seeing that the others remained stranded about 200 feet from the beach, Connor returned to them, finding that Osuna had taken in water and was having difficulty staying afloat. With Osuna holding to him, Connor swam a side stroke against the current toward shore, tiring and swallowing water en route. Osuna waded to safety. Connor again turned and swam out to the others. Karen by then was semiconscious and trying to stay afloat. Connor positioned himself under her and attempted to swim to shore, but he made no progress against the current. He then helped Karen secure a hold of his neck and in that fashion returned toward the beach, towing her, the remaining victims following. Nearly exhausted, Connor carried Karen from the water. He and the others were checked at the scene, but none of them needed medical treatment, and they recovered.
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