PITTSBURGH, PA, JULY 2, 2002—In its third award announcement of 2002, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 19 individuals from throughout the United States and Canada as recipients of the CARNEGIE MEDAL. The bronze medal is given to persons who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. Four of the awardees died in the performance of their heroic acts.
The heroes announced today bring to 63 the number of persons who have been recognized in 2002 to date, and to 8,621 the total number honored by the Commission since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission President Mark Laskow stated that each of the awardees or their survivors will receive also a grant of $3,500. Throughout the 98 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $25.7 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.
The awardees are:
- Roger Alan Scalf, Texas City, Texas
- Steven Brunelle, San Diego, Calif.
- Mark Allen Narantic, Hammond, Ind.
- Barbara Ann D’Hondt, Novi, Mich.
- Christine DeCourt, Alexandria, Va.
- Bojan Savric, Delta, B.C.
- Sui Sang Lo, Vancouver, B.C.
- Aric Ren Jeffs, Sherwood, Ore.
- Joseph M. Stepanek, Manchester, Iowa
- Brandon J. Trapp, Manchester, Iowa
- F. Mitchell Smith, Stittsville, Ont.
- Russell Hileman, deceased, Camden, Ohio
- John P. Kasper III, Humarock, Mass.
- H. Wayne Hix, Jr., deceased, Galveston, Texas
- Carl M. Harrison, Rochester, Pa.
- Rebecca Welch, Lancaster, Calif.
- Gary George Ferrier, deceased, Durham, Ont.
- Erich Schulz, deceased, Ayton, Ont.
- Joseph A. McGuire, Schenectady, N.Y.
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
Roger Alan Scalf
Texas City, Texas
Roger Alan Scalf saved Bernardo N. Gonzalez from drowning, Galveston, Texas, February 23, 2001. Bernardo, 17, entered the cold, rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico from a point on the beach near a rock jetty. He encountered difficulty against the current and lost consciousness. A friend of his flagged down Scalf, 38, firefighter, who was driving a fire truck past the scene. Scalf radioed for help, then responded to the jetty, from which he saw Bernardo floating face down about 150 feet from shore. Removing his boots, Scalf climbed down from the jetty into the water and swam about 90 feet to Bernardo. When Scalf reached him, Bernardo showed no sign of life. Holding Bernardo, Scalf swam toward shore and in wadable water stood and started to pull Bernardo in. Other men waded into the water, relieved Scalf of Bernardo, then took him to the beach, where he was revived. Bernardo required hospitalization, and Scalf was cold and tired, but he recovered.
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San Diego, California
Steven Brunelle rescued Kenneth C. Mickelsen from burning, San Diego, California, February 19, 2000. Mickelsen, 29, remained in the driver’s seat of a sport utility vehicle that, at night, left the highway, rolled down an embankment, and, coming to rest upside down, caught fire. Traveling on the same highway, Brunelle, 39, route sales representative, witnessed the accident and stopped at the scene. He descended the embankment to the passenger side of the vehicle, where he found Mickelsen, semiconscious, suspended by his safety belt and aflame. Brunelle extended his upper body through the window of the front passenger door and patted out flames on Mickelsen’s leg. He then released Mickelsen’s safety belt and, though Mickelsen outweighed him greatly, dragged him from the vehicle and assisted him back to the highway. Flames on the vehicle grew and shortly engulfed it. Mickelsen required hospitalization for severe burns to his leg and an arm.
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Mark Allen Narantic
Mark Allen Narantic saved a man from drowning, Hammond, Indiana, July 15, 2000. A 42-year-old man entered Wolf Lake to retrieve a ball but got into trouble in deep water as he pursued the ball. He called for help. Working nearby, Narantic, 41, park foreman, saw the man in trouble in the water. Without removing any clothing or his work boots, Narantic entered the lake and swam to the man. When he reached the man, the man grasped Narantic and attempted to climb atop him. Narantic freed himself from the man, who then submerged. Narantic went under the water, returned the man to the surface, and, with difficulty, swam him toward the bank. Others entered the lake and formed a chain to assist Narantic and the man onto the bank. Narantic, very tired and having chest pains, and the man were given oxygen at the scene, then were taken to the hospital. Narantic was detained overnight for testing, and he recovered.
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Barbara Ann D’Hondt
Barbara Ann D’Hondt saved Mitchell A. R. Kovac from burning, Novi, Michigan, October 2, 2001. Mitchell, 4, was asleep in the master bedroom in one end of his family’s mobile home after fire broke out in the adjoining utility room. Discovering the fire, his older brother alerted a neighbor, Ms. D’Hondt, 42, molding operator, who immediately responded to the scene. Ms. D’Hondt entered the mobile home through its front door and searched for Mitchell in the bathroom and bedroom in the opposite end of the structure. Although smoke by then precluded visibility, she then went to the master bedroom, en route passing the burning utility room. Finding Mitchell, Ms. D’Hondt woke him, then picked him up, returned to the front door, and exited the mobile home to safety with him. Mitchell and Ms. D’Hondt sustained minor smoke inhalation from which they recovered.
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Christine DeCourt helped attempt to rescue Kevin B. Shifflett from assault, Alexandria, Virginia, April 19, 2000. Kevin, 8, was playing in the front yard of his great-grandparents’ house in a city neighborhood when a man armed with a knife approached him and, without provocation, stabbed him repeatedly. Approaching the scene on the sidewalk, Ms. DeCourt, 51, office manager, saw the assault when she was about 60 feet away. She immediately ran toward the assailant, crying out for him to stop. When Ms. DeCourt reached the assailant, he stabbed her in the abdomen, pushing her away. Kevin’s great-grandmother came out of the house and intervened also as Ms. DeCourt, badly wounded, walked with difficulty to a nearby parking lot, where she collapsed. The assailant left the scene on foot. Ms. DeCourt was taken to the hospital, where she was detained a week for treatment of her stab wound, which required surgery. She recovered. Kevin died of his wounds at the scene.
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Delta, British Columbia
Sui Sang Lo
Vancouver, British Columbia
Bojan Savric and Sui Sang Lo rescued Kathrine Foster from burning, Richmond, British Columbia, August 2, 2000. Ms. Foster, 26, was trapped in the back seat of a car that burst into flame during a violent, multi-vehicle highway accident. The car came to rest facing another of the involved vehicles, which also had burst into flame, its driver killed. Savric, 32, marketing company manager, was traveling on the same highway when he witnessed the accident. He stopped at the scene and approached the burning cars, as did another motorist, Lo, 48, furniture company operator. The men found Ms. Foster conscious in the wreckage and moving her arms. Despite flames on the front of that car that were spreading to its rear and entering it, Savric reached through a broken-out window on the passenger side and grasped Ms. Foster. Lo attempted to open a passenger-side door, but it was jammed. Savric pulled on Ms. Foster several times before freeing her. He and Lo then pulled Ms. Foster from the wreckage and carried her away not more than a minute before an explosion at the car engulfed it with flames. Two other occupants of the car died at the scene. Ms. Foster required lengthy hospitalization for treatment of extensive and severe burns and other injuries. Savric also required hospital treatment, for a second-degree burn to his right arm, and Lo received medical treatment for a minor burn to his face and lacerations to his right arm. They recovered.
74691-8608 / 75305-8609
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Aric Ren Jeffs
Aric Ren Jeffs saved Dylan B. Arledge from being struck by a train, Sherwood, Oregon, August 9, 2001. Dylan, 7, was on a 50-foot-high, single-track railroad trestle as a freight train approached at about 13 m.p.h. While running toward the end of the trestle to get out of the train’s path, he fell to the track and cowered there. In the lead locomotive of the approaching train, Jeffs, 25, railroad conductor, saw Dylan fall. As the engineer applied the train’s brakes, Jeffs went to the front of the locomotive and positioned himself on the steps that extended down to the level of the track. Holding to a railing with his right hand, Jeffs swung the left side of his body in front of the train and grasped Dylan by the arm when the train reached him. Jeffs pulled Dylan up from the track and held him as the train went to a stop at a point about 150 feet beyond. Dylan sustained only minor scrapes.
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Joseph M. Stepanek
Brandon J. Trapp
Joseph M. Stepanek and Brandon J. Trapp saved Tyler J., Megan N., and Lisa K. Ellison from burning, Marion, Iowa, October 27, 2001. Tyler, 12, and his sister Megan, 11, were passengers in the back seat of a sport utility vehicle driven by their mother, 32. After a highway accident, which was fatal for the occupants of the other vehicle involved, the sport utility vehicle came to rest upside down in a grassy ditch along the highway and caught fire in its engine area. Stepanek, 20, carpenter, and Trapp, 20, mechanical insulator, were approaching on the same highway and witnessed the accident. They stopped at the scene and ran to the passenger side of the burning vehicle, which Stepanek entered through the broken-out window of the rear door. He released Tyler’s safety belt, then removed him from the vehicle and took him to safety. Stepanek then re-entered the vehicle, joining Trapp, who had entered through another broken-out side window. After they attempted to remove Megan’s safety belt, Trapp withdrew and obtained a small pocketknife from a bystander. He re-entered the burning vehicle with the knife, which Stepanek used to cut Megan’s safety belt. Trapp then removed her from the vehicle. With flames starting through the firewall at the front of the vehicle, Ms. Ellison freed herself and made her way into the back-seat area. Stepanek backed out of the vehicle and assisted her through the window to safety. Flames shortly engulfed the vehicle, which was destroyed in the accident. Tyler, Megan, and Ms. Ellison all required hospital treatment for broken bones and other injuries, but they were not burned.
75715-8611 / 75716-8612
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F. Mitchell Smith
F. Mitchell Smith helped attempt to rescue Sally McIntyre from assault, Stittsville, Ontario, October 4, 2000. Pursued by a deranged man armed with two kitchen knives, Ms. McIntyre, 34, ran screaming from her house to the carport of a neighbor’s house. From inside that house, Smith, 71, retired health care administrator, and his wife saw them approach, and they immediately went outside to the carport. The assailant then stabbing Ms. McIntyre, Smith approached him from behind and grabbed him around the neck, and Smith’s wife attempted to secure the knives, after which she returned inside the house to call for help. Smith and the assailant went to the floor of the carport and struggled, during which Smith sustained knife slashes and puncture wounds to his upper back and chest. Nearly spent and breathless, Smith then returned inside. The assailant continued his attack on Ms. McIntyre, then walked from the scene to where he was dispatched nearby by an arriving police officer. Ms. McIntyre and Smith and his wife were taken to the hospital, where Ms. McIntyre was detained a week for treatment, including surgery, of her wounds. Smith and his wife were treated for their knife wounds but were not detained. Smith experienced stiffness in his shoulder, a result of the struggle, for which he underwent physical therapy. He recovered.
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Russell Hileman, deceased
Russell Hileman died helping attempt to save Josey L. and Tara M. Wood from drowning, Camden, Ohio, June 6, 2001. Josey, 10, and her sister Tara, 11, were at a gravel pit lake on a fishing outing with their father and others, including their father’s friend, Hileman, 37, service technician. Playing at the mouth of a stream that emptied into the lake, Josey was carried into the deeper water of the lake, as was Tara. The girls struggled to remain afloat as the current pulled them farther from the bank. They shouted for help. Fishing nearby from the bank, Hileman immediately entered the water and swam to the girls. He grasped them and held one in each arm as the three struggled to stay at the surface of the water. Alerted on the opposite bank, the girls’ father then entered the lake and began to swim to them, but he submerged en route. Hileman and the girls also submerged. Their bodies were found the next day, and that of the father was found two days later. All four drowned.
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John P. Kasper III
John P. Kasper III helped to save James Burke from drowning, Scituate, Massachusetts, April 30, 2001. At night, Burke, 21, and his brother struggled to stay afloat in Massachusetts Bay of the Atlantic Ocean after the boat they had been using capsized in the 44-degree water at a point about a quarter-mile from shore. They began to scream for help. On shore in the vicinity, Kasper, 43, carpenter, and a friend heard them. Concluding that the victims required immediate aid, Kasper and his friend obtained a six-foot kayak from a house nearby and responded to the beach with it. Although unable to see the men in the darkness, Kasper entered the kayak and paddled toward them, guided at first by their screaming, which then stopped. When Kasper reached them, he and Burke grasped and held to each other, Burke’s brother submerging. As they awaited help, Kasper worked to keep Burke conscious. A fire department rescue boat arrived several minutes later, took Burke aboard, and returned him to shore, Kasper following in the kayak. Burke required hospitalization; his brother was not found. Kasper was cold following the rescue but uninjured.
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H. Wayne Hix, Jr., deceased
H. Wayne Hix, Jr., died after helping to save Giselle Barrios from drowning, Galveston, Texas, June 30, 2001. Giselle, 11, and her brother were wading in the Gulf of Mexico when they were caught by a current and pulled into deep water. Hix, 53, retirement community director, and a friend were fishing in wadable water nearby when they observed the children struggling. They waded toward the children, Hix’s friend reaching Giselle first. The friend secured a hold of Giselle and began to take her toward shore, but he encountered difficulty and shouted for help. From a point in wadable water, Hix swam to them and took Giselle from his friend, who continued toward shore. After advancing with Giselle, Hix too encountered difficulty and yelled for help. His friend returned to them and once again took Giselle, and other men responded and took Giselle the remaining distance to shore. Hix lost consciousness. He was pulled by his friend and others to shore, where resuscitation was attempted. Taken to the hospital, he was pronounced dead of drowning. Giselle’s brother also drowned.
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Carl M. Harrison, Jr.
Carl M. Harrison, Jr., saved Lillian Audi from burning, Ashley, Pennsylvania, October 24, 2001. Ms. Audi, 89, was a passenger in a minivan that, in an interstate highway accident involving a tractor-trailer, came to rest partially atop a concrete barrier and caught fire, at its front end. Other motorists, including Harrison, 44, state police officer, stopped at the scene and attempted to open the vehicle’s doors, which were locked and damaged from the accident. After access to the vehicle was gained, its six other occupants left or were removed to safety, but Ms. Audi, severely injured, lay trapped on the floor behind the driver’s seat. Wanting to avoid the flames in a rescue attempt, Harrison entered the vehicle through its elevated rear hatch, to which he was lifted by others. He made his way toward the front of the vehicle as others used fire extinguishers to prevent flames from spreading. In dense smoke inside the vehicle, Harrison attempted to free Ms. Audi, by then unconscious, but he was unsuccessful. He returned to the hatch and jumped from the vehicle, injuring his knees. Approaching the driver’s door, he re-entered the minivan and from the driver’s seat again attempted to free Ms. Audi, but again he had no success. He exited the vehicle and moved the driver’s seat forward, allowing easier access to Ms. Audi. He pulled her out, then carried her away shortly before spreading flames engulfed the minivan. Ms. Audi was taken to the hospital, but she died of her injuries. Harrison was treated for smoke inhalation and his knee injury, and he recovered.
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Rebecca Welch saved Bruce C. and Paula E. Hagemeyer from burning, Winthrop, Washington, July 10, 2001. In the face of a spreading forest fire, Hagemeyer, 53, and his wife, 50, were attempting to flee the narrow Chewuch River Canyon where they had been camping. They met up with a crew of forest service firefighters, who informed them that the fire had crossed the canyon’s only access road, trapping both them and the firefighters. Fire conditions at the scene soon intensified rapidly, with falling embers and ash preceding a rolling wave of extreme heat, fire, smoke, and fire-induced winds estimated at 50 m.p.h. As the firefighters deployed their personal shelters, Hagemeyer and his wife approached one of them, Ms. Welch, 22, and sought to share her protection. Forfeiting space, Ms. Welch took refuge with the couple in the one-person shelter, where over the course of 15 minutes they waited out the fire’s passage. On getting clearance, they went to the nearby river, where they awaited evacuation by rescue personnel. Hagemeyer and his wife were treated at the hospital for burns and smoke inhalation, and Ms. Welch required treatment for second-degree burns to the right side of her body. She recovered. Four of the firefighters died in their shelters at the scene.
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Gary George Ferrier, deceased
Erich Schulz, deceased
Gary George Ferrier died attempting to save Heinrich Redekopp, and Erich Schulz died attempting to save Ferrier, from suffocation, Drayton, Ontario, August 15, 2000. Redekopp, 23, entered the empty, 4,000-gallon tank of a liquid manure spreader at the farm where he was working and was overcome by manure gas. Working nearby, Ferrier, 32, the farm’s foreman, was alerted. He immediately responded to the scene and entered the tank for Redekopp but within moments was also overcome. Of the other farm workers then responding, Schulz, 32, entered the tank with a rope and was seen tying the rope around Ferrier when he too was overcome and collapsed. Arriving firefighters removed all three men from the tank, but none could be revived.
74743-8619 / 74744-8620
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Joseph A. McGuire
Schenectady, New York
Joseph A. McGuire saved Matthew T. Golden and helped to save Diana A. Johnston from burning, Westerlo, New York, May 4, 2001. Golden, 18, and Diana, 17, were unconscious inside a burning car that had crashed through a wall of a garage following a roadway accident and come to rest inside the garage. McGuire, 44, carpenter, responded to the scene from a nearby house. After breaking part of a garage door to enter the building, he went to the driver’s side of the car. With flames issuing from the car at its front tires, he opened the driver’s door, grasped Golden under the arms, and dragged him from the car, then from the garage. McGuire returned inside the garage to check for any passengers. Concluding that access to the passenger side of the car was impeded at both its front and rear ends, he climbed over the car’s trunk and went to the front door on the passenger side. Opening the door to find Diana inside the smoke-filled vehicle, he picked her up and carried her to the rear of the car, where he handed her over to a man who took her from the garage to safety. McGuire then left the garage, which caught fire within minutes and was destroyed, as were the car and two other vehicles. Golden and Diana were hospitalized for treatment of multiple injuries, Diana’s including a burn to an elbow. They recovered.
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