PITTSBURGH, PA, October 2, 2008 — In its third award announcement of 2008, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 25 individuals as recipients of the CARNEGIE MEDAL. The medal is awarded 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. Four of the awardees lost their lives in the performance of their rescue acts.
The heroes announced today bring to 73 the number of awards made to date in 2008 and to 9,224 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 104 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $30.9 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance. The awardees are:
- Joshua E. Huffman, Pandora, Ohio
- Brian Scott Sturgill, Harrah, Okla.
- Joseph Edward Howard, Shawnee, Okla.
- Randy Poindexter, Kingfisher, Okla.
- Ronald Thomas deceased, Wellsville, N.Y.
- Walter M. Beresford, Belleville, N.J.
- Raymond J. Knepper, Niles, Ohio
- Steven J. Gies, Petaluma, Calif.
- Timothy Charles, Scranton, Pa.
- Craig L. Wenner, deceased, Brookville, Ohio
- Keavy Joseph Neff, Spokane, Wash.
- William Dean Basler, Las Vegas, Nev.
- Clayton A. Boucher, Remsen, N.Y.
- James Christopher Koch, Homestead, Fla.
- Jeffrey S. Bass, Miami, Fla.
- Scott Leland McGrain, Horseheads, N.Y.
- Benjamin Montgomery, Koloa, Hawaii
- Lindsey A. Witherspoon, Kingsport, Tenn.
- Kyle Christopherson, Oxford, Ga.
- Diane D. Cox, Newbury Park, Calif.
- Jarmaine E. Ravenell, Ewing, N.J.
- Javier Jimenez, Trenton, N.J.
- Dominique Chatman, deceased, Baton Rouge, La.
- Gregory J. Carson, deceased, Slidell, La.
- Timothy John Foote, Harrisburg, 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
Joshua E. Huffman
Joshua E. Huffman saved Seth L. Boroff and helped to save Judith A. Garrison from drowning, Pandora, Ohio, August 21, 2007. Seth, 11, was the passenger of a car driven by Garrison, 61, that was washed from a flooded roadway into an adjacent low-lying field, which also was flooded. They escaped the car through a window, the extremely swift current in the floodwater carrying the vehicle a few hundred feet into the field. Garrison held to the car, but Seth, separated from it, was washed farther downstream, or to a point nearly opposite the house belonging to Huffman, 32, construction project manager, who was working outside. Alerted to the accident by a witness, Huffman ran to the flooded field and, removing his shoes, waded a few feet into the water. He then swam to Seth, who was about 150 feet out. Huffman held the boy to his chest with one arm as he swam back to the edge of the water with the other. Having learned from Seth that Garrison had also been in the car, Huffman ran about 250 feet on an exposed stretch of land to a point opposite Garrison, who was struggling to stay afloat. By then, the car was submerged. Although very tired, he re-entered the floodwater and swam about 100 feet to Garrison. Huffman grasped her and, treading water, supported her as responding firefighters launched a boat and made their way out to them. They returned Garrison and Huffman to higher ground. Seth and Garrison were taken to the hospital, but they were not injured. Huffman was tired after the rescue and quickly recovered.
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Brian Scott Sturgill
Joseph Edward Howard
Brian Scott Sturgill, Joseph Edward Howard, and Randy Poindexter saved Bernice A. and LeRoy F. Krittenbrink from drowning, Kingfisher, Oklahoma, August 19, 2007. Bernice, 66, and her husband, LeRoy, 72, were driving on an interstate highway when floodwaters the result of a tropical storm washed their pickup truck into an expanse of flooded farmland. The vehicle was carried away and remained afloat for at least an hour in the muddy water. The state highway patrol responded with an aircraft and two helicopters and lowered life jackets to the Krittenbrinks, who by then had escaped to the bed of the submerging pickup. One of the helicopters was piloted by Sturgill, 41, a trooper, who with his co-pilot, Howard, 34, a trooper, and Poindexter, 33, the local fire chief, was readying for a rescue by basket and line when they learned that the truck had sunk. They immediately flew to the scene, deciding to pull the couple directly into the helicopter despite the risk of overloading it. Sturgill took the helicopter close to the water as Poindexter positioned himself on one of its landing skids. Since his view of the Krittenbrinks was obscured, Sturgill was directed by Howard in maneuvering the craft close to them. He held it in place as Poindexter, with difficulty, grasped Mrs. Krittenbrink. Unable to pull her into the cabin, he helped her hold to the helicopter as Sturgill started back to the highway, but, her strength sapped, Mrs. Krittenbrink fell back into the water. Sturgill repositioned the craft, dipping its skid into the water to snag her. Poindexter helped her to a seated position on the skid and Howard held to her as Sturgill flew back to the highway, having to clear a power line en route. The three men returned for Krittenbrink, who by then was floating inert. While Sturgill positioned the helicopter close to him, again directed by Howard, Poindexter, back on the skid, secured a hold of Krittenbrink. He too fell back into the water as the helicopter started toward the highway. Again Sturgill positioned the helicopter to allow Poindexter to grasp Krittenbrink. Poindexter and Howard held Krittenbrink in a seated position on the skid as Sturgill returned the helicopter to the highway. The Krittenbrinks were exhausted after their ordeal, but they recovered.
80670-9201 / 80935-9202 / 80629-9203
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Ronald Thomas, deceased
Wellsville, New York
Ronald Thomas died attempting to save Daniel G. Allen from drowning, Wellsville, New York, April 29, 2007. Daniel, 16, and his father were fishing from atop a man-made waterfall that spanned the Genesee River when the father toppled into the boil of water at the base of the falls. Attempting to help him, Daniel also fell into the boil. They could not extract themselves. Thomas, 56, sub-assembler and welder, was fishing nearby, also above the falls. He moved along the falls to a point above Daniel and his father and extended his fishing pole toward Daniel. Daniel reached for the pole, but then Thomas fell from the falls into the boil. Both Daniel and his father became free of the boil and were aided by others to the bank. Rescue personnel arrived at the scene and were preparing to enter the water to recover Thomas when he became free of the boil and floated downstream. Rescuers removed him from the water but could not revive him, as he had drowned. Daniel and his father were taken to the hospital for observation, but they were not injured.
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Walter M. Beresford
Belleville, New Jersey
Walter M. Beresford rescued Frances M. Greene from burning, Irvington, New Jersey, April 13, 2006. Greene, 70, was on the second floor of her two-story house after fire erupted in a bedroom on that floor. Flames issuing from the bedroom window caught the attention of Beresford, 57, a fire captain for another municipality, who, off duty, was in the neighborhood. Beresford ran to the burning house and with another man forced entry through the front door. He searched the first floor for any occupants and then started upstairs, having to crawl because of dense, black smoke filling the stairway. On the second floor, he heard Greene calling for help. He crawled across a hall and into the burning bedroom, where flames issued from the walls and ceiling. Finding Greene lying on the floor, Beresford secured a hold on her and, seated on the floor, pushed himself back to the top of the stairs, dragging her. He went down the stairs with her to a landing, where he attempted to use a rug in removing her from the house. Firefighters arrived and helped move Greene away from the structure as flames spread throughout the second floor. Both Greene and Beresford were taken by ambulance to the hospital, where they were treated for second-degree burns, from which they recovered.
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Raymond J. Knepper
Raymond J. Knepper rescued Louis A. Michaels from burning, Niles, Ohio, May 20, 2007. Michaels, 43, was inside his one-story house after a natural gas explosion there set fire to the front half of the structure. At his home nearby, Knepper, 53, machine operator, learned of the fire. Responding to the scene, he and others heard Michaels yelling from inside the house and determined his approximate location. Knepper forced open the house’s back door, entered, and, despite intense heat, crawled through dense smoke about 14 feet to the end of a hall. He followed the sound of Michaels’s voice, finding him in a room off the hall. Although flames were then entering the room, Knepper crawled across it to where Michaels was lying on the floor, badly burned, and pulled him to his feet. With both men crouching, Knepper guided Michaels to the hall and then to the back door and outside. Michaels required hospitalization for treatment of his injuries. Knepper sustained minor burns, and he recovered.
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Steven J. Gies
Steven J. Gies helped to rescue Cathy M. Rappa from burning, Petaluma, California, August 16, 2007. Rappa, 49, was unconscious in her apartment on the second floor of a two-story building after fire broke out in the unit’s bedroom and filled it with dense smoke. A neighbor, Gies, 43, electronics technician, was alerted to the fire and responded to the apartment, where at its outside door he learned from another neighbor that Rappa was inside. Having been told her location, Gies entered the apartment and crawled through dense smoke in the living room, which adjoined the bedroom, to where Rappa lay on the floor, in the bathroom doorway. He grasped her by the legs but found that she was stuck. Maneuvering her free, Gies dragged her toward the apartment entrance. With flames by then breaching windows near the door, the other neighbor entered the apartment and helped Gies drag her to the door, and arriving firefighters carried her down the stairs to safety. Rappa was hospitalized for treatment of severe smoke inhalation and burns and died two days later.
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Timothy Charles rescued Helen L. Lashinski from burning, Scranton, Pennsylvania, August 3, 2007. Lashinski, 81, was on the second floor of her two-story house after fire broke out at night in the kitchen, on the first floor, and engulfed it. On duty, Charles, 28, was one of three police officers who responded to the scene before firefighters. They gained access to the house through its front door and, hearing Lashinski call for help, entered, but intense heat and dense smoke forced them out. Charles re-entered and, his eyes closed against the heat, crawled through an entry to the foot of the stairway, which was adjacent to the kitchen. He climbed the stairs and found Lashinski on a step near the top. He grasped her about the chest and carried her downstairs and to the front door as flames spread from the kitchen doorway to the stairwell. Lashinski was hospitalized for treatment of smoke inhalation and burns, and she recovered. Charles inhaled smoke, and he too recovered.
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Craig L. Wenner, deceased
Craig L. Wenner died attempting to save Patricia S. Wenner from drowning, Englewood, Ohio, December 25, 2006. In an attempt to free her family’s dog from the churning water at the base of a low-head dam on the Stillwater River, Patricia, 50, fell into the river at the edge of the dam and became caught in the rough water. Her husband, Craig, 50, project manager, who was a skilled swimmer, immediately entered the river at the dam and reached her, but they soon submerged. Emergency responders, including divers, searched for the couple, but their bodies were not immediately recovered from the river.
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Keavy Joseph Neff
Keavy Joseph Neff helped to save a man from drowning, Spokane, Washington, April 25, 2007. A 23-year-old man entered the Spokane River and was swept several hundred feet downstream by the very swift current. Shouting for help, he was heard by Neff, 44, carpenter, who lived near the river. Neff pursued the man on foot and then on his bicycle, riding about 3,000 feet along the river to an accessible point on its bank ahead of the man’s course. There, Neff removed his outer attire and, despite a water temperature in the 40s, dived into the river. He swam out to intercept the man at a point about 30 feet from the bank and then, establishing a hold on him, began to swim back in. Firefighters who had responded threw a line to them and pulled them to the bank. The man required hospitalization, and Neff suffered a pulled muscle.
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William Dean Basler
Las Vegas, Nevada
William Dean Basler rescued Kristy A. Dudley and Stacey L. Taylor from a runaway carriage, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 8, 2007. Sightseeing, friends Dudley, 26, and Taylor, 28, were passengers inside a closed carriage that was being pulled by a horse on a six-lane, center city street. A van approached from behind and struck the carriage, sending its driver to the pavement. Spooked, the horse continued, at a trot, causing the carriage to lurch. Witnessing the accident, Basler, 19, began to chase the carriage, but when a taxicab stopped beside him, he boarded it and was driven to a point ahead of the runaway carriage. As the carriage approached him, having covered 1,000 feet, Basler climbed onto its side and then forward to its bench, which served as the driver’s seat. He seized the reins and pulled, stopping the horse, but the momentum of the carriage prompted the horse to resume running. Basler took the horse and carriage to a stop about 600 feet beyond the point where he had boarded the carriage. Jostled, Dudley and Taylor were taken to the hospital for observation.
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Clayton A. Boucher
Remsen, New York
Clayton A. Boucher helped to save Lyle M. Robison from burning, Holland Patent, New York, July 10, 2007. Unconscious, Robison, 67, remained in the driver’s seat of his car after an accident in which the vehicle left the highway, overturned onto its passenger side, and came to rest against a concrete abutment in a ditch adjoining the roadway. Flames broke out in the vehicle’s engine compartment. Traveling on the same highway, Boucher, 44, electronics technician, arrived at the scene and learned that the vehicle was occupied. He entered the ditch and approached the burning car from behind, where he broke out its rear window with a rock. Despite intense heat and dense smoke in the car, Boucher stepped inside through the window opening. He freed Robison of his safety belt and then lifted him up to the driver’s door, where others who had opened the door pulled Robison from the car and took him to safety on the highway. Boucher stepped to safety through the rear window of the car less than a minute before flames intensified to enter it. Robison required hospitalization for treatment of his injuries, and Boucher suffered minor cuts to his hands. Both men recovered.
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James Christopher Koch
Jeffrey S. Bass
James Christopher Koch and Jeffrey S. Bass saved Norberto Martinez from being struck by a boat, Key Largo, Florida, September 29, 2007. Martinez, 67, was thrown from his 18-foot boat into the Atlantic Ocean when the boat struck a channel marker about a half-mile from shore. The boat continued in circles around him, striking him and inflicting severe injury. Koch, 39, fishing guide and boat captain, and Bass, 40, attorney, were approaching the scene in Koch’s smaller, lightweight boat when they saw the out-of-control boat circling Martinez, who was floating face down and inert. After the unmanned boat made a pass, Koch maneuvered the smaller boat to Martinez. Lying on the exposed deck at the bow, Bass reached down and secured a hold on Martinez. Koch then backed the smaller boat from the path of the circling one to a point of safety. He helped Bass lift Martinez aboard and then took him to shore. Martinez required hospitalization for treatment of his injuries, including lacerations to his back, and Bass sustained bruising. Both men recovered.
80856-9213 / 80857-9214
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Scott Leland McGrain
Horseheads, New York
Scott Leland McGrain rescued Andrew M. Peterson from burning, Horseheads, New York, December 10, 2005. Andrew, 12, was asleep in his family’s one-story house when a massive explosion of leaking natural gas demolished the structure, throwing its occupants from it. Unconscious and badly injured, Andrew lay under debris along the side of the structure, close to a jet of burning gas. McGrain, 32, police officer, responded to the scene. Seeing Andrew’s hand exposed in the debris, he approached him, despite intense heat and the close proximity of flames issuing from the gas line. McGrain kicked aside rubble from atop Andrew, picked him up, and took him away from the burning debris. Andrew was hospitalized for treatment of severe injuries and burns, requiring surgery.
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Benjamin Montgomery rescued Ping Zhou from assault, Lihue, Hawaii, January 10, 2007. Zhou, 33, was seated at a table in the courtyard of a mall when a woman armed with a large knife approached and stabbed her in the back. Screaming, Zhou rose and ran into a nearby restaurant, the assailant following her. Montgomery, 32, a mall business operator, was also seated in the courtyard, and he witnessed the assault. He followed the women into the restaurant, where the assailant had resumed stabbing Zhou at a point about 30 feet from the door. Montgomery approached the assailant from behind and grasped her, securing her knife hand. He disarmed her and then took her outside, where police who arrived shortly arrested her. Zhou was hospitalized for treatment of multiple stab wounds, and she recovered.
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Lindsey A. Witherspoon
Lindsey A. Witherspoon saved a woman from drowning, Kingsport, Tennessee, December 26, 2007. A vehicle driven by a 20-year-old woman began to submerge nose first in Fort Patrick Henry Lake after leaving the adjoining parking lot. Witherspoon, 18, college student, who was nearby, immediately ran to the bank of the lake and, removing items of attire, entered the water, despite its cold temperature. She swam about 75 feet out to the driver’s side of the car, where the woman was struggling to emerge through the window of the front door. Witherspoon grasped the woman about her arms and pulled her the rest of the way from the vehicle. With difficulty, the woman nearly submerging her, Witherspoon swam her to wadable water at the bank, where others aided them from the lake. The woman was taken to the hospital, and Witherspoon was cold but uninjured.
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Kyle Christopherson saved Daniel C. Broaddus from drowning, Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, July 23, 2007. Broaddus, 47, was wading in the Atlantic Ocean when he was pulled out from shore by a rip current. He struggled to return but made no progress and became tired. Christopherson, 18, university student, was at a condominium pool adjacent to the beach in that vicinity when he became aware of Broaddus’s difficulty. He immediately ran to the beach and into the choppy water and swam to Broaddus, who was about 150 feet from shore. When he touched bottom and realized that he was on a submerged sandbar, Christopherson grasped Broaddus and pulled him onto the sandbar. They stood there momentarily to recapture their strength. Christopherson then established a hold on Broaddus, who was exhausted, and swam toward shore on a diagonal course to avoid the rip current. Using only one arm to swim, Christopherson made slow progress. When they were in wadable water, a responding lifeguard met them and aided in taking Broaddus to the beach. He was given oxygen, and he recovered.
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Diane D. Cox
Newbury Park, California
Diane D. Cox rescued Sandra Ruiz from assault, Newbury Park, California, August 12, 2007. At night, Ruiz, 33, was attacked by a man armed with a meat cleaver in the courtyard of her apartment complex. Cox, 52, administrative assistant, who also lived in the complex, was alerted to the attack. She ran to the scene, where she saw the assailant atop Ruiz, striking her. Shouting at him to stop, Cox jumped on the assailant, knocking him off Ruiz and to the ground. Although the assailant struck Cox on the face with the cleaver, inflicting a significant injury, she got on top of him and held down his weapon hand. Another resident of the complex arrived, disarmed the assailant, and helped Cox detain him for police, who responded shortly and arrested him. Ruiz required extensive hospitalization for treatment of severe injuries. Cox was also taken to the hospital, for treatment of blunt trauma to the side of her face, including a fracture and a laceration that required suturing.
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Jarmaine E. Ravenell
Ewing, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Jarmaine E. Ravenell and Javier Jimenez rescued Keisha L. Downing from assault, Trenton, New Jersey, August 13, 2007. Downing, 36, was crossing a downtown street when a man approached her from behind, grasped her, and stabbed her in the leg. Screaming, she struggled against him for control of the knife as they went to the pavement. Nearby, Ravenell, 25, cashier, and Jimenez, 34, sales manager, were alerted to the attack. They immediately ran to the scene, where they pushed the assailant off Downing and punched him to get him to free her. Releasing Downing, the assailant then threatened the men with the knife, inflicting severe wounds to Ravenell about the forearms. Ravenell fell to the street, where the assailant continued to attack him. Ravenell kicked the assailant until the assailant broke off the attack and walked away. Jimenez followed him to direct police to his location. Police responded shortly and arrested him. Downing required hospital treatment for her stab wounds, as did Ravenell, who was detained for surgery to both arms.
80598-9220 / 80671-9221
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Dominique Chatman, deceased
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Gregory J. Carson, deceased
Dominique Chatman and Gregory J. Carson died attempting to help save Joy R. Anderson and Sharon R. Haskins from drowning, Miramar Beach, Florida, September 11, 2007. Holding to a small surfboard, Anderson, 49, and Haskins, 24, struggled to return to the beach from a point about 300 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. They called for help. A member of their party, Chatman, 24, supervisor, who was Anderson’s great-nephew, was wading ashore in the vicinity. He turned and swam out toward the women. From the beach, Carson, 43, supervisor, who was Chatman’s father, and another man entered the water and also swam out toward them. The other man reached the women and struggled to take them to shore by towing the surfboard. They ultimately reached safety, but Chatman and Carson submerged. They were shortly removed from the water by others but could not be revived. Anderson, Haskins, and the other man required hospital treatment, and they recovered.
80685-9222 / 80684-9223
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Timothy John Foote
Timothy John Foote rescued David H. Jauss from burning, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 29, 2007. Jauss, 78, lay unconscious on the floor of the family room, on the first floor of his two-story house, after fire broke out in that room at night. A neighbor, Foote, 45, mail carrier, was alerted to the fire and, barefoot, immediately responded to the scene. Finding the doors to the house locked, he entered the integral garage and broke through the door opening to the hall off the family room. Despite spreading flames in the family room in the vicinity of its hall doorway, including on the ceiling, Foote entered the room but found his course blocked by burning furniture and debris. Retreating to the garage for a shovel and for shoes from another responding neighbor, Foote re-entered the family room and pushed away some of the debris. Seeing Jauss on the floor, he approached and grasped him by the legs. He pulled Jauss into the hall and to the garage, where others took him to safety, Foote also leaving the structure. Jauss required extensive hospitalization for treatment, including surgery, of burns and smoke inhalation. Foote also suffered smoke inhalation. Both men recovered.
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