PITTSBURGH, PA, May 3, 2007 — In its second award announcement of 2007, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 19 individuals throughout the United States and Canada as recipients of the CARNEGIE MEDAL. The medal is awarded 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 39 the number of awards made to date in 2007 and to 9,092 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 grant of $5,000. Throughout the 103 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $29.4 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.
Three of the awardees announced today drowned in their rescue acts, including a Detroit teenager who was aiding other rescuers in the removal of a man from his car submerging in a retention pond. The awardees are:
- W. John Funk, Gilmanton, N. H.
- Michael Sanchez, deceased, Homestead, Fla.
- James J. Blount III, Chesapeake, Va.
- Michael D. Evans, Jr., Kellyville, Okla.
- Roger W. Myers, Interior, S. D.
- Kenneth Lee Thompson, Wall, S. D.
- Michael E. G. Oakley, Savannah, Tenn.
- Matthew J. Emmerling, State College, Pa.
- Kevin J. Mahoney, Columbus, Ohio
- Johnathan P. Burbea, Brookline, Mass.
- Obed M. Petties, Jr., deceased, Detroit, Mich.
- Oscar A. Leiva, Reno, Nev.
- Richard Stauffeneker, New Ipswich, N. H.
- David R. Sauter, Canandaigua, N. Y.
- Christopher Alan Duggan, deceased, Prospect, N. S.
- Michael F. Drozdo, Holly, Mich.
- Frank Oesterling, Butler, Pa.
- Richard M. Gigliotti, Butler, Pa.
- Dennis Mark Baptiste, Fenelton, Pa.
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
W. John Funk
Gilmanton, New Hampshire
W. John Funk saved Jason M. Young and Samantha L. Redman from burning, Gilmanton, New Hampshire, June 30, 2005. Jason, 16, was the driver of a pickup truck that left the roadway in a rural area at night and crashed into a tree. His passenger, Samantha, 15, was rendered unconscious. Flames broke out at the vehicle, spread along its underside, which was turned up against the tree, and grew high quickly. Funk, 59, lawyer, lived at the scene and heard the accident. Responding, he found Jason starting to exit the vehicle through its rear window. Funk entered the bed of the truck, pulled Jason through the window, and eased him to the ground. Learning that Samantha was still inside the vehicle, Funk went to its driver’s side, which was lower to the ground, and partially entered the cab, head first, through the window of the driver’s door. He grasped Samantha about the arms but found that she was trapped in the wreckage. Funk then asked Jason for help, and, although injured, Jason reached into the truck and freed Samantha’s legs. Funk pulled Samantha from the vehicle and dragged her across the road to safety. Flames soon engulfed the cab. Jason and Samantha were both hospitalized for treatment of their injuries, but neither was burned.
Back to Top
Michael Sanchez, deceased
Michael Sanchez died attempting to save four children from drowning, Homestead, Florida, March 26, 2006. Four children, two aged 15 and the others 11 and 10, were adrift in a small boat on a man-made lake at a condominium complex when the boat began to take on water and sink. They shouted for help at a point about 500 feet from the bank, attracting the attention of Sanchez, 33, mechanic, who was visiting at the scene, and others. Sanchez removed his outer attire and entered the water, which was murky. He started to swim to the children but at a point about 75 feet from the bank experienced difficulty in the water. A man swam out to help him, but Sanchez struggled against him and he returned to the bank. Sanchez then submerged. Using boats, others removed the children to safety. Rescue divers shortly recovered Sanchez from the water. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead of drowning.
Back to Top
James J. Blount III
James J. Blount III saved Sigmund Molis, Jr., and James Tatem from burning, Suffolk, Virginia, July 19, 2006. Molis, 52, was the driver of a tractor-trailer that struck the rear of a utility truck driven by Tatem, 54, on an interstate highway bridge over Hampton Roads. The vehicles came to rest along the bridge’s concrete wall, which hampered access to their driver’s doors. Flames broke out at the front of the tractor and spread to the rear of the utility truck, which carried welding supplies and equipment. Off duty, Blount, 32, firefighter and medic, witnessed the accident while traveling on the bridge. After reporting it, he donned firefighting attire, including helmet, and attempted to douse the flames with extinguishers he obtained from Tatem’s truck and other motorists. They were of little effect. Accessing the driver’s side of the tractor by going under the trailer, Blount climbed to the driver’s door of that rig and opened it. He helped Molis, who was severely injured, from the cab and to the pavement, keeping him from falling from the bridge, and they then went under the trailer to safety across the highway lanes. With flames on the tractor intensifying, Blount went to the passenger door of Tatem’s vehicle but found it jammed. He broke out the door window with his helmet, then maneuvered head first partially into the cab. Blount grasped Tatem, who was unresponsive, then pulled him to the door, through the window, and across the bridge to safety. Both drivers required hospital treatment, Molis for chest injuries, but neither was burned.
Back to Top
Michael D. Evans, Jr.
Michael D. Evans, Jr., saved Jack E. Bailey from drowning, Catoosa, Oklahoma, February 27, 2006. Bailey, 72, was trapped inside his car after it left the highway, entered a 10-foot-deep retention pond, and started to submerge nose first in the 40-degree water at a point about 75 feet from the closest bank. He released his safety belt but could not open the driver’s door. Evans, 31, electrician, was working at a pole about 375 feet away and witnessed the accident. He immediately descended to the ground and ran to the pond. After removing his coat and hat but keeping on his work boots, Evans entered the water and swam to the car, the rear end of which was still exposed. He attempted to open the driver’s door but was not successful. Surfacing, Evans reached for and opened the rear door on that side of the car. He submerged again, reached into the car, and, grasping Bailey by the hair, pulled him from the vehicle. They surfaced. After pausing against the rear of the car, Bailey swam to the bank and Evans looked for others inside the vehicle. Two men aided Bailey from the pond, after which Evans returned to the bank. Bailey was taken to the hospital for observation but was not detained. Evans was cold after the rescue and sustained sore muscles, and he developed respiratory distress that caused him to miss four days’ work. He recovered.
Back to Top
Roger W. Myers
Interior, South Dakota
Kenneth Lee Thompson
Wall, South Dakota
Roger W. Myers and Kenneth Lee Thompson saved Ann B. and William A. Byrne from burning, Martin, South Dakota, March 10, 2005. During a dust storm with high winds, Ms. Byrne and her husband, both 87, were trapped inside their car after an accident in which the car left the roadway, entered a ditch, and caught fire at its rear end. Ms. Byrne was unable to open the passenger door, and her husband was rendered unconscious. Ms. Byrne pounded on the window and shouted for help. Myers, 57, carpenter, and a coworker, Thompson, 35, maintenance worker, drove upon the scene and stopped. While Thompson called for help, Myers approached the burning car and attempted to open its doors. Unsuccessful, he returned to the men’s vehicle for a fire extinguisher. Thompson also responded to the car and attempted to open its doors. He then removed the window of the passenger door, assisted Ms. Byrne from the car, and carried her to safety. Learning that Byrne was still in the vehicle, Myers and Thompson returned to it. Thompson used the fire extinguisher against the flames, which by then had reached the back-seat area, and he opened the passenger door. He and Myers partially entered the car and grasped Byrne, and then they pulled him through the passenger door and carried him to safety. Flames shortly engulfed the car’s interior. Byrne and his wife were hospitalized for treatment of their injuries. Myers and Thompson also received hospital treatment, for minor burns, and they inhaled smoke. They recovered.
79446-9078 / 79445-9079
Back to Top
Michael E. G. Oakley
Michael E. G. Oakley helped to rescue Eric G. Alexander from burning, Savannah, Tennessee, April 13, 2005. Following a nighttime accident involving a sport utility vehicle and his pickup truck, Alexander, 29, remained in the driver’s seat, trapped by wreckage. Flames broke out at the front end of the truck and spread into the passenger compartment. Michael, 16, student, drove upon the scene and stopped. He approached the pickup on its driver’s side, reached through the open window, and pulled on Alexander about the arms. After having to retreat at least twice because of intense heat, Michael reached into the pickup again, grasped Alexander, and began to pull him out. A man who lived nearby responded to the truck, and he too grasped Alexander. The rescuers pulled Alexander the rest of the way from the vehicle and dragged him across the road to safety. Alexander required lengthy hospitalization for treatment of extensive injuries, including severe burns.
Back to Top
Matthew J. Emmerling
State College, Pennsylvania
Kevin J. Mahoney
Matthew J. Emmerling and Kevin J. Mahoney saved Seth L. Mattleman and others from burning, State College, Pennsylvania, April 2, 2006. Mattleman, 20, was asleep in the 2.5-story house he shared with other university students, some of whom were also inside the building. Fire broke out before dawn on the back porch of the house and, spreading rapidly, entered the structure, including into Mattleman’s first-floor bedroom. Emmerling, 21, university student, was nearby when he saw the fire. He and Mahoney, 22, lifeguard, who was walking nearby, responded to the front of the house, where they entered through the front door, shouting to alert any occupants. Two of the residents fled the building. Although dense smoke limited their visibility, the men entered Mattleman’s room and shouted for him to leave, but Mattleman was disoriented. Emmerling grasped him about the arms and pulled him to the front door and outside, Mahoney following. Emmerling and Mahoney then re-entered the house, through a side entrance, and went upstairs, where they evacuated the second floor of at least one occupant. Finding a disoriented man in a bathroom on that floor, Mahoney pulled him by the arms to the stairs, and they stumbled partway down before exiting the house along with Emmerling. Flames soon engulfed the interior of the structure and destroyed it. Mattleman suffered burns and was treated at the scene. He recovered. Emmerling suffered smoke inhalation, for which he sought medical attention the following day, and Mahoney sustained a minor ankle burn. They too recovered.
79225-9081 / 79226-9082
Back to Top
Johnathan P. Burbea
Johnathan P. Burbea moved Lawrence Spiegel from the path of a trolley, Brookline, Massachusetts, June 15, 2006. Crossing the track on which a trolley was approaching at 10 m.p.h. in a commuter station, Spiegel, 62, fell on the wet crosswalk and landed between the rails. The trolley operator applied the car’s emergency brakes. Standing on the adjacent platform, Burbea, 33, financial professional, saw Spiegel fall. With the trolley then only about 25 feet away, he immediately ran to Spiegel. From a point between the rails of the track, Burbea grasped Spiegel and moved him to the platform, the trolley then striking Burbea in the leg and grazing Spiegel as it passed. Both men were taken to the hospital, where Spiegel was treated for minor injuries, from which he recovered. Burbea received treatment for a knee injury, which required further medical attention.
Back to Top
Obed M. Petties, Jr., deceased
Obed M. Petties, Jr., died attempting to help save Petter Mattic from drowning, Sterling Heights, Michigan, July 20, 2006. Unconscious, Mattic, 64, remained inside his automobile after it entered a retention pond and began to submerge in water about 15 feet deep at a point about 125 feet from the bank. Motorists nearby, including Petties, 18, construction worker, and two coworkers, stopped at the scene and responded to the bank. The two coworkers and other men swam to the car and worked to gain access to it. When one of them yelled to Petties to get a hammer, he returned to the men’s van and obtained one. Taking the hammer with him, Petties entered the pond and began to swim toward Mattic’s car. Before reaching it, he submerged and did not re-appear. Mattic was removed from the car by the other rescuers and then was towed to the bank. He was hospitalized for testing. The coworkers re-entered the pond to search for Petties, but they were unsuccessful. His body was recovered about two hours later; he had drowned.
Back to Top
Oscar A. Leiva
Oscar A. Leiva saved Lynn Bloom and Mary M. Rocha from burning, Tracy, California, November 29, 2005. Bloom and Rocha, 92, were inside Rocha’s one-story house after fire broke out in a front bedroom. A neighbor, Leiva, 34, forklift operator, was working outside when he saw smoke, and he responded to the scene. Leiva kicked in the front door of the house and entered the living room, in which visibility was severely hampered by dense smoke. He proceeded into the adjoining front bedroom, which was aflame. Not seeing anyone, Leiva left the bedroom and found Bloom in the living room, on a couch. He got her to her feet and walked her through the front door to safety. Re-entering the house, Leiva crossed the living room and went to the back door. He opened the door to clear the smoke for better visibility. Hearing Rocha coughing, Leiva found her in a bedroom at the back of the house. He picked her up and carried her through the back door to safety. Both women were taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. Leiva also required hospital treatment for having inhaled smoke, and he recovered.
Back to Top
New Ipswich, New Hampshire
Richard Stauffeneker saved Joseph P. Gruda from burning, New Ipswich, New Hampshire, May 4, 2006. Gruda, 26, was the driver of a commercial truck that, carrying at least 130 gallons of fuel and towing a pickup truck, rolled over onto another vehicle, crushing it, in a highway accident. Disoriented, he hung upside down in the cab of the truck as leaking fuel flowed onto the road and flames erupted on the wreckage, near the cab. Other motorists, including Stauffeneker, 36, mason, stopped at the scene. Stauffeneker approached the wreckage and, after pulling the truck’s windshield away, partially entered the cab head first and freed Gruda’s legs, which were pinned by the gearshift lever. As Gruda remained caught, Stauffeneker worked to dislodge him while the flames grew. He then pulled Gruda from the cab and guided him to safety. Learning only then that another vehicle was involved, Stauffeneker returned to the wreckage, but the driver of the other vehicle was able to free himself. The men retreated to safety moments before flames engulfed the cab of the truck and the other vehicle. Gruda was treated at the scene for cuts to his hands, and the driver of the other vehicle sustained only a minor burn.
Back to Top
David R. Sauter
Canandaigua, New York
David R. Sauter helped to save Ethel Hannah from drowning, Pittsford, New York, May 25, 2006. Hannah, 60, was the driver of an automobile that left the roadway, entered the adjacent Erie Canal, and began to submerge nose first in the 12-foot-deep water at a point about 52 feet from the bank. She moved to the other side of the car and opened the window of the front passenger door. Driving nearby, Sauter, 50, sales representative, witnessed the accident and responded to the bank of the canal. Ascertaining that Hannah could not swim well, Sauter removed his jacket and shoes and dived into the water, which was very cold. He swam to the car, only a few inches of which were still showing, Hannah having been submerged as she tried to climb through the window. Sauter reached below the surface of the water and grasped Hannah by her collar. He pulled her from the car and to the surface, then placed an arm across her chest and started to return to the bank. En route, he became numb and nearly exhausted, and he called for help at a point about 10 feet from the bank. Two other men entered the canal and relieved Sauter of Hannah, whom they took to safety, Sauter following. Hannah was taken to the hospital for observation, and Sauter recovered after resting.
Back to Top
Christopher Alan Duggan, deceased
Prospect, Nova Scotia
Christopher Alan Duggan saved Darian S. H. Mansfield and died attempting to save Adam R. Mansfield from drowning, Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia, September 3, 2005. While at a sandbar along an Atlantic Ocean beach, Darian, 8, and her brother, Adam, 12, were carried into deep water and from view by a strong current. Their mother and a friend, Duggan, 31, waded to the sandbar and then into the deeper water in search of them. As Duggan continued out, the mother returned to shore, and she alerted help. Duggan reached the children and towed Darian to safety at a point of land bordering the beach, and then he turned back for Adam. Meanwhile, others in the vicinity responded, including a kiteboarder, who made his way to Adam and returned him to safety. Duggan submerged, and his body was found later that day. He had drowned.
Back to Top
Michael F. Drozdo
Michael F. Drozdo rescued Diana L. Bowman from burning, Holly, Michigan, April 3, 2006. Bowman, 48, was inside her one-story house after fire erupted in the center hall and spread. A neighbor, Drozdo, 31, warehouse supervisor, discovered the fire and reported it. He then approached the structure and opened its front door, which led into the hall. Oxygen tanks were stored along both walls of the hall, and flames issued along its ceiling. Bowman lay unconscious on the hall floor, at a point about 10 feet from the door. Drozdo ran to her, seized her about the arms, and dragged her out of the house. When she then revived, he walked her away from the structure. Oxygen tanks failed in the flames, which shortly engulfed the interior of the house. Bowman, seriously burned, was hospitalized but died of her injuries about two months later.
Back to Top
Richard M. Gigliotti
Dennis Mark Baptiste
Frank Oesterling, Richard M. Gigliotti, and Dennis Mark Baptiste rescued Timothy C. Baptiste from burning, Butler, Pennsylvania, June 21, 2006. Following a highway accident in which a box truck at high speed struck the rear of his stopped automobile, Timothy, 47, remained in the driver’s seat, unconscious and trapped by wreckage. The car, virtually demolished, had burst into flame as the vehicles veered across the highway, and they remained in contact. Flames grew and spread to the inside of the car and to the front of the truck. Oesterling, 50, sales engineer, was in his vehicle, stopped at the scene, and witnessed the accident. He approached the car and, despite its interior flames that dropped melting material, reached through the open window of the driver’s door and released Timothy’s safety belt. Another motorist who witnessed the accident while stopped at the scene, Gigliotti, 20, university student, soon joined him, and together they grasped Timothy about the arms and pulled on him, an explosion at the car occurring about then. Dennis, 45, construction worker, came upon the scene while traveling on the highway, and he too responded to the driver’s side of the car. Not then realizing that he and Timothy were related, he reached inside the car through the window to free Timothy’s legs. The men then pulled Timothy through the window and from the car and took him to safety. He required hospitalization for treatment of extensive injuries, including burns. Oesterling sustained minor burns to an arm and ear.
79484-9090 / 79485-9091 / 79483-9092
Back to Top