PITTSBURGH, PA, June 24, 2010 — In its second award announcement of 2010, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 23 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 of civilization” in the words of Andrew Carnegie, Hero Fund founder. Three of the awardees lost their lives in the performance of their heroic acts.
The heroes announced today bring to 45 the number of awards made in 2010 and to 9,372 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 106 years since the Fund was established, $32.4 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance. The awardees are:
- Timothy Lucas Gibson, Cape Coral, Fla.
- Edward Russell Nye, Mechanicsville, Va.
- Michael Rangus, Mechanicsville, Va.
- Akasha Witchey Traver, Lexington, Va.
- Gary DeWayne Vinson, Jr., deceased, Sylvester, Ga.
- Willard Van Fleet, deceased, Factoryville, Pa.
- Mark W. Keene, deceased, Dalton, Pa.
- Edward Jay Fillingham, Henderson, N.Y.
- Jared J. Champayne, Chicago, Ill.
- Jeremy S. Cobb, Muskegon, Mich.
- Chad J. Tolstedt, Monroe, Mich.
- Paul M. Marks, Monroe, Mich.
- Larry Brian Jordan, Poland, Maine
- Keith E. Melton, Troy, Ill.
- Terry L. Bullard, Worden, Ill.
- Alexander G. Glass, Newport, N.C.
- Branden L. Bonge, Valley Mills, Texas
- Cody L. Clemmons, Crawford, Texas
- Nickolas J. Edwards, Salem, Ore.
- Cameron T. Andersen, Mill Valley, Calif.
- Gregory R. Thomson, Corte Madera, Calif.
- Donald Arthur Morrison, Dutch Valley, N.B.
- Donald George Gough, Summerland, B.C.
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
Timothy Lucas Gibson
Cape Coral, Florida
Timothy Lucas Gibson saved Kerrigan Lawhorn from burning, Cape Coral, Florida, February 15, 2009. Kerrigan, 1, was in a bedroom of her family’s one-story house after fire broke out in the kitchen and filled the room with dense smoke. Across the street, Gibson, 29, air conditioning installer, was alerted to the fire. He and others responded to the front of the burning house, where entry was gained through breaking a bedroom window. Gibson climbed through the window into the bedroom, went to his hands and knees, and, despite there being no visibility in the smoke, searched the room. After returning to the window for air, he again penetrated the room and found Kerrigan at its opposite side. He pulled her to his chest, stood, and ran back to the window, where he handed her out to the others. Gibson then climbed through the window to safety. Kerrigan was hospitalized, and Gibson received hospital treatment for smoke inhalation, from which he recovered.
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Edward Russell Nye
Edward Russell Nye and Michael Rangus rescued Ronald A. Hairfield, Jr., from burning, Mechanicsville, Virginia, June 13, 2009. Hairfield, 37, was the sole occupant of a pickup truck that left a rural road, turned onto its passenger side, and caught fire at its front end. The sound of the crash alerted Nye, 28, store clerk, and Rangus, 57, manager, both of whom resided nearby. They ran to the scene, where they saw Hairfield emerge through the window of the driver’s door and shout for help. Despite high and growing flames issuing from the front of the vehicle, Nye, who was wearing only shorts, and Rangus approached the pickup, grasped Hairfield by his arms, and pulled him out of the cab and to the ground. Another man joined them in taking him farther away. Hairfield was hospitalized for treatment of serious burns and other injuries and died 18 days later.
82325-9351 / 82326-9352
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Akasha Witchey Traver
Akasha Witchey Traver rescued Willow W. Scorpius from burning, Hot Springs, Virginia, January 15, 2009. At night, Willow, 1, was in her crib in a bedroom on the first floor of her family’s house after an accidental fire broke out in that room, near the crib. Her aunt, Akasha, 14, student, and other family members discovered the fire. Akasha entered the bedroom, in which dense smoke precluded visibility of everything except the flames, and attempted to get to the crib, but she stumbled and fell. Repelled by deteriorating conditions, she left the bedroom, but she re-entered after a moment and went to the crib, which was by then aflame. Akasha took Willow from the crib and carried her outside. Flames spread throughout the structure, destroying it. Willow and Akasha were taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and minor burns, and they recovered.
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Gary DeWayne Vinson, Jr., deceased
Gary DeWayne Vinson, Jr., died helping attempt to save Joshua Perry from drowning, Albany, Georgia, August 3, 2008. Joshua, 11, and his brother had entered the swift water of the Flint River while playing on the bank and were struggling against a man who then attempted to save them. In another party, Vinson, 23, business operator, responded to the scene with friends after being alerted to the incident. From the bank they first linked arms to try to aid the boys and their rescuer, and then they swam out when Joshua became separated from the man. As the man returned Joshua’s brother to the bank, Joshua struggled against Vinson’s friends, and he then struggled against Vinson and submerged him as Vinson attempted a rescue. They did not resurface. Joshua’s body was recovered from the river two hours later, and Vinson’s was recovered the following morning. Both had drowned.
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Willard Van Fleet deceased
Mark W. Keene deceased
Willard Van Fleet died helping to save a girl from drowning, Dalton, Pennsylvania, February 21, 2009, and Mark W. Keene died attempting to help save the girl and her mother. A 5-year-old girl went onto an ice-covered pond but broke through at a point about 15 feet from the bank and fell into 12 feet of water. Her mother’s friend, Van Fleet, 36, general laborer, immediately went onto the ice for her and then jumped into the water. He held the girl up while his stepfather, Keene, 55, builder, who was present, left to summon help. The girl’s mother went onto the ice for her, but she too broke through and, unable to extricate herself, held to the edge of the ice. Van Fleet swam to her and handed the girl over to her before submerging. Keene, meanwhile, despite having a history of significant heart disease, returned to the pond from his nearby home with an extension ladder, which he placed on the ice within reach of the girl’s mother. She did not have the strength to grasp it. As a responding firefighter then removed both the girl and her mother from the open water to safety, Keene suffered a fatal heart attack and collapsed to the ice. The girl and her mother were taken to a hospital for treatment of hypothermia, from which they recovered. Van Fleet was removed from the pond by divers about three hours later. He had drowned.
82027-9354 / 82026-9355
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Edward Jay Fillingham
Henderson, New York
Edward Jay Fillingham saved Amanda L. Roberts, Kiefer S. Hockey, and Douglas Daury from drowning, Henderson, New York, April 17, 2009. The paddleboat that Roberts, 22; Hockey, 17; and Daury, 27, were operating overturned in Henderson Bay of Lake Ontario in water about 20 feet deep at a point about 1,500 feet from shore. They shouted for help as they struggled in the 41-degree water. At his home on the shore in that vicinity, Fillingham, 75, retired mason, witnessed the accident. He assembled a paddle and life jackets and then, despite suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, which compromised his swimming ability, launched a 12-foot aluminum canoe and rowed through choppy water out to the victims. They grasped the sides of the canoe as Fillingham retraced his course to shore, towing them. The victims left wadable water and were taken into Fillingham’s home, where they warmed.
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Jared J. Champayne
Jeremy S. Cobb
Jared J. Champayne and Jeremy S. Cobb saved Catherine A. Hamlin from drowning, Muskegon, Michigan, August 3, 2009. Hamlin, 41, was wading in Lake Michigan when she was pulled away from shore by a very strong current. Struggling to return to the beach but making no progress against the current and five-foot waves breaking over her, she shouted for help. Friends Champayne, 23, and Cobb, 27, were swimming closer to shore in that vicinity and heard Hamlin call out for help. They swam to her, Champayne reaching her first at a point about 200 feet from shore. He grasped Hamlin by an arm and supported her until Cobb arrived soon and grasped her other arm. The men struggled against the current and waves in their efforts to reach shore, Cobb submerging to push Hamlin from behind in their attempts. Once able to touch the lake bottom, Champayne and Cobb walked Hamlin to the beach, where she collapsed. Hamlin and her rescuers were tired and winded, but they recovered.
82460-9357 / 82459-9358
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Chad J. Tolstedt
Paul M. Marks
Chad J. Tolstedt and Paul M. Marks saved Timothy D. Kundrat from burning, Monroe, Michigan, June 30, 2009. Kundrat, 54, was in the living room on the first floor of his two-story apartment after fire broke out in that room at night. Tolstedt, 33, police officer, was dispatched to the scene, where he learned that Kundrat was inside the unit. He kicked open the front door, entered, and, hearing Kundrat, started to crawl through a smoke-filled hall that extended 15 feet to the living room. Standing to advance, Tolstedt took in too much smoke and had to retreat to the front door for air. He re-entered the apartment, walking crouched over, and struggled against the smoke and intense heat to reach the living room. Another responding officer, Marks, 32, entered the apartment at about that time and, yelling to Tolstedt, also made his way, crawling, through the hall to the living room, where he joined Tolstedt at Kundrat. Each grasping Kundrat by a hand, the officers dragged him to the front door and outside to safety. Kundrat was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries. Tolstedt recovered from inhaling smoke.
82364-9359 / 82467-9360
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Larry Brian Jordan
Larry Brian Jordan helped to save Robert G. Evans, Jr., from burning, Poland, Maine, May 20, 2009. Evans, 38, was the driver of a pickup truck that in an accident left the roadway and overturned in a ditch. The truck came to rest on its driver’s side, its roof against the slope of the ditch, and flames broke out on its exposed underside. Evans remained conscious but was trapped in the vehicle. Jordan, 48, production operator, drove upon the scene, finding other men fighting the flames with fire extinguishers and attempting to open the passenger door, which was jammed shut. He mounted the passenger side of the truck for better access and, using a pry bar, popped open the passenger door. Jordan then went to the ground and opened the door farther. He reached inside the truck, grasped Evans by the arms, and pulled him from the vehicle with the help of one of the other men. Evans was able to walk away from the vehicle, most of which became engulfed by flames. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries, from which he recovered.
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Keith E. Melton
Terry L. Bullard
Keith E. Melton attempted to rescue Frederick H. Winters from assault and with Terry L. Bullard helped to save an indeterminate number of other persons, Maryville, Illinois, March 8, 2009. During a morning service being attended by about 100, Winters, 45, was preaching in the church where he was pastor when a man entered the sanctuary, proceeded down the center aisle, and stood in front of him. The man produced a semiautomatic pistol and shot at Winters but missed. As Winters moved along the platform, the assailant pursued him, firing twice more. Melton, 51, programmer analyst who was in the congregation, left his seat and ran to Winters and the assailant, who were struggling on the sanctuary floor. He reached them as the assailant fired again, striking Winters and mortally wounding him. Melton grasped the assailant and struggled against him, the assailant producing a knife that he used to stab Melton in the chest. Melton was sent to the floor but regained his footing and charged the assailant, as did another congregant, Bullard, 39, repair shop manager. Blocking the assailant’s path, Bullard grasped him about the shoulders to take him to the floor and was stabbed repeatedly in an ensuing struggle. Melton, Bullard, and other congregants subdued the assailant until police arrived and arrested him. Melton and Bullard received hospital treatment for their stab wounds, Bullard requiring surgery for a chest wound and physical rehabilitation. They recovered.
82049-9362 / 82048-9363
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Alexander G. Glass
Newport, North Carolina
Alexander G. Glass saved Karrissa N. and SuAnna L. Willis from drowning, Cape Lookout, North Carolina, May 25, 2009. Sisters Karrissa, 18, and SuAnna, 23, struggled to stay afloat in the Atlantic Ocean after a strong current took them out from the beach and thwarted their efforts at returning. On shore, their mother screamed for help, attracting the attention of Glass, 33, teacher, who was in another party in the vicinity. Glass waded and swam about 250 feet out to SuAnna, who then directed him to Karrissa. Glass swam about 50 feet farther out to Karrissa, established a rescue hold on her, and swam back to SuAnna. SuAnna held to Karrissa as Glass, outweighed by the women, towed them toward shore. En route coming upon a submerged sandbar, they stood in wadable water to rest. Glass then resumed towing the women toward shore, where they were aided to the beach from wadable water. The women were taken to the hospital, where SuAnna was detained overnight. They recovered. Glass was fatigued, and he too recovered.
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Branden L. Bonge
Valley Mills, Texas
Cody L. Clemmons
Branden L. Bonge saved Mallery and Megan Smith from burning, and Cody L. Clemmons helped to rescue Lisa K. Bowdoin, Waco, Texas, March 25, 2009. Sisters Mallery, 10, and Megan, 9, were passengers in a sport utility vehicle driven by Bowdoin, 34. In a two-vehicle highway accident, the sport utility vehicle left the roadway, overturned onto its roof, and started to burn at its front end. Bonge, 28, general manager, drove upon the scene and responded to the passenger side of the vehicle. Despite flames entering its front interior, he kicked out a window and, partially entering it head first, pulled Mallery out. After taking her to safety, Bonge returned and crawled inside again, farther, to grasp Megan, who was unconscious. He removed her from the vehicle. Clemmons, 44, business operator, also drove upon the scene and stopped. Informed that Bowdoin was trapped by her safety belt, Clemmons obtained a knife, partially entered the vehicle through a window on its passenger side, and gave the knife to Bowdoin, who freed herself of the belt. Despite a rush of flames then occurring at the vehicle, Clemmons grasped Bowdoin, who outweighed him, by the hands and pulled her out, others then helping to take her to safety. Flames grew to engulf the vehicle shortly, and they spread to the other vehicle, nearby, that was involved in the accident. Mallery and Megan required hospital treatment for their injuries, as did Bowdoin, whose injuries included burns. Bonge and Clemmons also received hospital treatment, for minor injury.
82163-9365 / 82183-9366
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Nickolas J. Edwards
Nickolas J. Edwards saved Destiny E. Edwards from burning, Salem, Oregon, October 17, 2009. Destiny, 21, was the driver of an automobile that, at night, left the roadway, overturned, and came to rest on its driver’s side. Flames broke out in the car’s engine area. Unable to exit the vehicle, Destiny screamed for help. Driving on the same road, Nickolas, 19, high school student, came upon the scene. He approached the car and attempted to gain access to it through its passenger door but was unsuccessful. Despite growing flames at the front end of the car, Nickolas went to the windshield and kicked it repeatedly, creating a small hole. He pulled at the windshield to enlarge the hole and then extended his arms inside the vehicle and grasped Destiny. He pulled her from the vehicle, and they ran to safety. Flames grew and spread to engulf much of the car. Destiny required hospital treatment for her injuries, and Nickolas was treated at the scene for minor cuts to his hands. He recovered.
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Cameron T. Andersen
Mill Valley, California
Gregory R. Thomson
Corte Madera, California
Cameron T. Andersen and Gregory R. Thomson helped to save a girl from drowning, Stinson Beach, California, May 16, 2009. While swimming in the Pacific Ocean, a 16-year-old girl was pulled seaward by a very strong current and was unable to return against it. On the beach, Andersen, 23, laborer, became aware of her situation. He removed his outer attire and waded and swam out to the girl, allowing another man who had swum out to her to return to the beach. Andersen positioned his body beneath the girl, who was nearly exhausted, to keep her afloat. They were joined shortly by Thomson, 50, tutor, who also swam out from the beach on being alerted to the girl’s needing help. The two men attempted to swim back to shore with the girl, but they made no progress against the current. Supporting her, they were carried farther seaward as they awaited help. After several minutes, two lifeguards, one with a paddleboard, reached them. Andersen and Thomson helped place the girl on the paddleboard, and she was returned to the beach by one of the lifeguards. The other lifeguard remained with the men as they swam back to shore, resting en route with the aid of the lifeguard’s flotation device. The girl required overnight hospital treatment, and she recovered. Andersen and Thomson were cold and tired, and they too recovered.
82256-9368 / 82255-9369
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Donald Arthur Morrison
Dutch Valley, New Brunswick
Donald Arthur Morrison rescued a woman from burning, Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, May 24, 2008. A 27-year-old woman was the pilot of a helicopter that was transporting Morrison, 43, diamond driller, and a coworker to a work site in a remote area. As the helicopter was descending to land, a mechanical failure sent it out of control. It dropped 75 feet to the ground, crash landing on its left side. The craft’s fuel tank was
punctured, and flames erupted immediately and grew quickly, entering the cabin. Morrison unfastened his safety belt, kicked out a section of the windshield, and stepped from the helicopter. Although severely bruised in the crash, he then turned and reached back into the cabin. He grasped the pilot by her jacket, pulled her from the helicopter, and dragged her away. Rapidly advancing flames that consumed the cabin precluded his attempt to rescue the other passenger, who died at the scene. Evacuated by helicopter, the pilot required hospitalization for fractures and minor burns to her back, and Morrison was treated at the hospital for contusions and abrasions. He recovered.
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Donald George Gough
Summerland, British Columbia
Donald George Gough helped to save Gordon R. Kingston from drowning, Manning Park, British Columbia, May 23, 2007. Kingston, 83, remained in the driver’s seat of his car after it left the highway, went down an embankment and entered the Similkameen River, and, overturning, was swept downstream by the very swift current. Its windows broken out, the car righted itself, facing upstream, at a point about 35 feet from the bank in water about four feet deep. Kingston, who was a nonswimmer, climbed partially out of the car through the window of its driver’s door and sat on the window ledge with his legs inside the vehicle. Motorists who stopped at the scene included Gough, 60, environmental monitor contractor. As no rescue aids were then available, Gough left the scene and obtained lengths of fire hose. Returning, he tied one end of the hose around his waist and, still wearing his boots, entered the river as men on the bank held the other end. Gough walked upstream and then started to approach the car, but the current overtook him. He swam to the car and mounted it and then lowered himself into the water next to the driver’s door. Gough removed the hose from around his waist, tied it around Kingston, and then pulled Kingston from the car and released him. The men on the bank pulled Kingston to the edge of the river. Untethered, Gough swam from the car, the current taking him farther downstream as he made his way to the bank. Kingston was moved up the embankment to the highway and then taken to the hospital, where he was admitted for treatment of hypothermia and lacerations. He recovered. Gough was cold and tired but fully recovered within a few hours.
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