PITTSBURGH, PA, September 20, 2012—In its third award announcement of 2012, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 19 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.
Two of the awardees drowned attempting to save others. William R. Walker, 48, of San Jose, Calif., died July 3, 2010, after entering the rough surf of the Pacific Ocean at Carmel, Calif., to rescue a woman who had been washed from the beach, and William Wilkinson, 17, of Philadelphia, Pa., died May 25, 2011, in the attempted rescue of a friend from the tide-affected waters of the Delaware River in Philadelphia.
The heroes announced today bring to 63 the number of awards made in 2012 to date and to 9,558 the total number since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission President Mark Laskow stated that each of the awardees will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 108 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $34.6 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance. The awardees are:
- Anthony S. Johnson, Farmington, Minn.
- John P. Williams, La Crosse, Wis.
- John Lynn Haight, Rogue River, Ore.
- Michael Chad Perry, Phenix City, Ala.
- Rodney Bone, Grady, N.M.
- Christopher S. Stimpson, Tucumcari, N.M.
- William R. Walker, deceased, San Jose, Calif.
- Richard Henry Becker, Mendocino, Calif.
- Daniel R. Welp, East Dubuque, Ill.
- Matthew R. Scribner, Palmyra, N.Y.
- Leonard Terry, Pineville, N.C.
- Mark A. McCullagh, Charlotte, N.C.
- Kali Jo Arnzen, Sauk Centre, Minn.
- Steven DeGrace, Beresford, N.B.
- William Wilkinson, deceased, Philadelphia, Pa.
- Justin Michael Reed, Philadelphia, Pa.
- Christopher Patino, Rochester, N.Y.
- Mustafa A. Said, Henrietta, N.Y.
- Summer N. White, Edmond, Okla.
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
Anthony S. Johnson
Anthony S. Johnson saved Oscar R. Haddorff from drowning, Red Wing, Minnesota, May 29, 2011. Unconscious, Haddorff, 56, was being swept downstream in the Mississippi River by a strong current. Witnesses on the nearer bank, including Johnson, 32, inventory and quality control assistant, saw him. Johnson immediately removed his shoes and dived into the 62-degree water from a nearby dock. He swam without difficulty about 50 feet to Haddorff and established a hold on him, but the current kept him from making progress back to the bank on his first attempt. Johnson then readjusted his hold on Haddorff, who outweighed him, and with difficulty began to swim back to the bank, towing him, as the current washed them downstream. Tiring and submerging en route, Johnson reached the bank with Haddorff at a point about 420 feet from where he entered the water. Others pulled Haddorff from the river and aided Johnson to safety. Haddorff required hospitalization, and Johnson, cold and fatigued, was treated in the emergency room. He recovered.
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John P. Williams
La Crosse, Wisconsin
John P. Williams helped to save Joel L. Merchlewitz from drowning, La Crosse, Wisconsin, June 25, 2011. At night, Merchlewitz, 39, entered the Mississippi River and was carried downstream by a strong current. Williams, 41, deputy sheriff, overheard a police dispatch on the situation and responded to the river bank. Seeing Merchlewitz disappear into the darkness, Williams removed his shoes and items of gear, donned a life vest, and dived into the water, which was deep along the bank. He swam in the direction of Merchlewitz, the current taking him about 400 feet downstream, to where he was able to hold briefly to a bridge pier. He saw Merchlewitz nearby, struggling to stay afloat, and intercepted him. As Williams held to Merchlewitz, the current carried them farther downstream, and they submerged repeatedly. Boaters aboard a private craft caught up to the men and secured them with a line. A fire department boat arrived shortly and took them aboard and to safety. Merchlewitz was not injured. Williams was nearly exhausted, but he recovered that night.
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John Lynn Haight
Rogue River, Oregon
John Lynn Haight saved Leonard F. Wrobel from drowning, Rogue River, Oregon, June 29, 2011. Wrobel, 70, slipped and fell into the cold, swift-moving water of the Rogue River, which adjoined his property. Losing consciousness, he was swept downstream. A neighbor, Haight, 54, sales manager, was alerted to the situation. Seeing Wrobel floating face down, he ran to the river and, fully clothed, dived into it from his dock. Although he had lost sight of Wrobel, Haight swam downstream in search of him and caught up to him after going about 200 feet. In water beyond his depth, he grasped Wrobel, who outweighed him, and swam to the bank, pulling him. Haight maneuvered Wrobel partially out of the water onto a concrete slab, where he worked to revive him. Emergency personnel responded and required the use of a raft to remove Haight and Wrobel from the scene. Wrobel required hospitalization, and Haight sustained significant muscle strain from his exertion, for which he underwent therapy.
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Michael Chad Perry
Phenix City, Alabama
Michael Chad Perry saved Christopher M. Sanders from an out-of-control vehicle, Columbus, Georgia, August 25, 2011. Sanders, 27, was driving a sport utility vehicle on a parkway, on which the speed limit was 65 m.p.h., when a medical condition caused him to lose control of it. Perry, 26, mechanic, was driving behind Sanders and saw the vehicle slow and shift lanes. He then drove ahead of Sanders, parked on the highway’s shoulder, and, exiting his truck, began to run after Sanders’s vehicle, which by then had passed him at a speed of about 15 m.p.h. Perry reached the passenger side of Sanders’s vehicle and opened the front door. With the vehicle still moving, he entered and lay on its front passenger seat, his lower legs extending outside, through the doorway. Perry grasped the steering wheel and, taking the vehicle to the shoulder, put its gearshift lever in the “park” position. The vehicle stopped against the guide rail, one of Perry’s legs stuck between the opened door and the body of the vehicle. Perry freed himself and went to the driver’s side to tend to Sanders. Sanders required hospital treatment, and Perry sustained a bruise to his right leg.
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Grady, New Mexico
Christopher S. Stimpson
Tucumcari, New Mexico
Rodney Bone and Christopher S. Stimpson saved Mortarice D. Collier and David A. Wallace from burning, San Jon, New Mexico, July 31, 2011. Collier, 47, was trapped in the cab of a tractor-trailer after the vehicle struck the rear of another tractor-trailer on a ramp of an interstate highway. Flames broke out on the passenger side of Collier’s tractor and spread into the cab and its sleeper berth, where Wallace, 52, had been sleeping. Nearby, Bone, 40, an officer with the state’s motor transportation police, was alerted to the accident, and he immediately responded. Seeing Collier pounding on the window of the driver’s door, which was jammed shut, Bone climbed onto the wreckage of the fuel tank housing and broke out the window. He reached into the cab, grasped Collier, and started to pull him through the window to safety, Collier then climbing down to the pavement. Alerted that Wallace remained in the cab, Bone returned to the window and saw that Wallace was lying unconscious on the floor, between the seats. Bone attempted without success to reach him as flames grew in the cab and sleeper; likewise, his efforts at opening the door were not successful. Stimpson, 50, a state police officer, arrived about then. He entered the cab head first through the window, grasped Wallace, and, as Bone held to his legs, worked to free him. After Stimpson then maneuvered from the cab, pulling Wallace, Bone grasped Wallace, whose clothing was burning, and took him to the pavement. Flames shortly engulfed the cab and spread to the trailers of both vehicles, destroying them. Wallace was hospitalized for treatment of significant injuries, including burns to his arms and legs.
84388-9544 / 84389-9545
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William R. Walker, deceased
San Jose, California
William R. Walker died after attempting to save Nalini Kommineni from drowning, Carmel, California, July 3, 2010. Kommineni, 31, and other members of her party were walking along the beach of a state park when they were knocked down by the surf and pulled into the water of Carmel Bay of the Pacific Ocean. In another party at the beach, Walker, 48, operations manager, immediately responded to the water, as did others who were nearby, to aid the victims. They pulled all of the victims onto the beach except for Kommineni, who was floating face down at a point about 300 feet from shore. Despite a rough surf with waves of at least eight feet in height, Walker entered the water and swam out to her. He began to tow her toward shore but was next seen separated from her. Walker struggled toward the beach and was pulled the remaining distance to safety by a responding sheriff’s deputy. He soon lost consciousness, and efforts to revive him at the scene and at the hospital were unsuccessful, as he had drowned. Responding lifeguards, meanwhile, removed Kommineni from the water. She too was taken to the hospital, where she died two days later.
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Richard Henry Becker
Richard Henry Becker saved Zayre S. Johnson from drowning, Mendocino, California, January 18, 2011. Zayre, 17, entered Mendocino Bay of the Pacific Ocean to surf, but his board broke in two in the rough seas, and he abandoned it. Rather than attempt to return to shore against a strong outward current, he turned toward a cove at the far end of the bay. Becker, 31, teacher, had also gone to the bay to surf but decided against it because of the strong winds and 14-foot waves. From atop the headlands overlooking the bay, he watched Zayre and concluded that he was at risk of being swept away, into the treacherous area of waves breaking against the rocky cliffs near the cove. After donning a wet suit and telling others at the scene to call for help, Becker entered the bay with his surfboard and paddled out toward Zayre, but the glare of the setting sun prevented him from spotting Zayre. Firefighters arrived and from atop a cliff directed Becker toward him. Becker reached Zayre after paddling about 2,000 feet out from shore. He directed Zayre to lie atop him on the surfboard and then, with Zayre kicking, Becker paddled toward the cove. Their progress was slow. Negotiating the breakers at the cove, they reached shore, Becker nearly exhausted. Zayre was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia. Becker suffered sore muscles for a day and recovered.
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Daniel R. Welp
Daniel R. Welp saved Merlin J. Hoftender from drowning, East Dubuque, Illinois, July 28, 2011. Hoftender, 53, was stranded at his pickup truck after it was washed from a flooded highway into a ditch during heavy rains at night. Welp, 55, custodian, was driving on the same highway when the floodwater’s current took his truck past Hoftender’s. Hoftender, who could not swim, shouted to him for help. When Welp’s truck stopped on the highway, he exited and saw that another motorist was stranded by the floodwater on the highway. Welp went to that motorist and aided him to safety at the edge of the flooded area. He then re-entered the floodwaters and proceeded several hundred feet, to a point beyond Hoftender’s truck. Welp stepped from the highway into the 10-foot-deep water of the flooded ditch and, moving with the current, swam to Hoftender’s truck. He aided Hoftender up the opposite bank of the ditch to the bed of a railroad track that extended alongside it. Firefighters had been dispatched along the track and met up with the men. All reached safety.
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Matthew R. Scribner
Palmyra, New York
Matthew R. Scribner saved Kurt E. Deisinger from drowning, Palmyra, New York, April 23, 2011. Deisinger, 26, and his brother were kayaking on Ganargua Creek near the base of a low-head dam. Water from the nearby Erie Canal spilled over the dam into the creek, forming a boil at the base of the dam. When Deisinger’s kayak rolled, throwing him into the boil, his brother paddled toward him, but he too fell into the turbulent water and with Deisinger became caught there momentarily. They were then pushed downstream, conscious but immobilized, and they shouted for help. Scribner, 24, and three friends were on a bank of the creek about 150 feet away and witnessed the accident. Removing his shirt and shoes, Scribner jumped feet first into the creek, which was high and running fast from spring runoff, and was stunned by the coldness of the water. He swam to Deisinger, reaching him at the outer edge of the boil, and towed him to the north bank. Deisinger’s brother, meanwhile, floated with the current toward the north bank, and when he was within reach, Scribner and the others pulled him from the creek. Deisinger and his brother were both hospitalized for treatment of hypothermia, and they recovered. Scribner also needed hospital treatment for hypothermia, and he too recovered.
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Pineville, North Carolina
Mark A. McCullagh
Charlotte, North Carolina
Leonard Terry and Mark A. McCullagh helped to save a girl from drowning, Charlotte, North Carolina, January 12, 2010. A 9-year-old girl walked onto the ice of a partially frozen pond at an apartment complex and broke through at a point about 60 feet from the nearer bank. Terry, 25, had been watching her from his nearby apartment. He immediately ran to the pond and then, although he could not swim, walked onto the ice toward her. Nearing the open water, he extended a hand to the girl, but then he broke through the ice. He submerged completely, and when he surfaced, the girl clung to his back as he trod water, submerging repeatedly, and called for help. McCullagh, 46, business executive, was alerted to the situation from his nearby home. He too responded to the pond, where he removed his outer attire and then crawled across the ice to the open water. McCullagh managed to get the girl onto solid ice, and she made her way to safety, but he broke through himself and entered the frigid water. McCullagh then supported Terry, who outweighed him, against the solid ice as they awaited help. Arriving fire personnel used ropes and a ladder to pull Terry, and then McCullagh, from the open water and across the ice to safety. The girl was taken to the hospital, as were Terry and McCullagh, both of whom required treatment for hypothermia. They recovered.
84380-9550 / 82871-9551
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Kali Jo Arnzen
Sauk Centre, Minnesota
Kali Jo Arnzen saved Travis J. Ritter from drowning, Sauk Centre, Minnesota, December 29, 2011. While riding in his all-terrain vehicle, Ritter, 30, broke through an area of thin ice on Fairy Lake at a point about 700 feet from the bank. The vehicle sank, and Ritter was unable to climb from the open water. About 400 feet away, Kali, 17, high school student, was ice skating in the area between Ritter and the bank when she heard the ice break. Seeing Ritter in the open water, she immediately skated toward him, quickly, assuming a seated position as she approached. From about 10 feet away, Kali slid her skates to Ritter to use as ice picks, but he could not pull himself onto solid ice. Kali then removed her jacket and extended a sleeve to Ritter, but as they pulled on the jacket Kali was drawn closer to the open water. Ritter returned a skate to Kali, and she used it to anchor herself to the ice as she resumed pulling on the jacket. Thus aided, Ritter hoisted himself onto solid ice. He and Kali regained their footing and walked to the bank, where first responders were arriving. Ritter was taken to the hospital but other than bruising was uninjured.
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Beresford, New Brunswick
Steven DeGrace rescued Vernon Pell from burning, St. Margarets, New Brunswick, September 18, 2009. Pell, 75, was inside his one-story house after fire erupted in the kitchen. Motorists, including DeGrace, 40, electronics technician, drove upon the scene and stopped, having observed smoke issuing from the structure. Informed that Pell remained inside the house, DeGrace entered through the front door two times in search of him, but he was repulsed both times by smoke that precluded visibility. On a third entry, DeGrace crossed the living room and located Pell in the kitchen. As he began to pull Pell toward the front door, Pell fell to the floor, where he lay inert. Although Pell greatly outweighed him, DeGrace dragged him through the living room and to the front door, where a woman helped to pull Pell out of the house and into the yard. Pell was hospitalized for treatment of severe burns but died the next day. DeGrace recovered from exposure to the smoke.
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William Wilkinson, deceased
Justin Michael Reed
William Wilkinson died attempting to save Jennifer Torres from drowning, and Justin Michael Reed helped to save her, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 25, 2011. Torres, 18, fell into the Delaware River from a pier along the bank and was quickly carried away by a strong tidal current. A friend who was present, William, 17, high school student, jumped into the river from the pier after her. He reached Torres, but they became separated and Torres was swept farther away. Reed, 29, teacher, and a friend were arriving at the pier to fish about then and were alerted to the situation. Reed partially disrobed, jumped into the water from the pier, and swam about 180 feet swam to Torres. He positioned her on her back and started to swim to the bank with her, but she struggled against him en route, submerging him. Reed’s friend had left the pier and reached a point on the bank opposite Reed and Torres. He entered the water, swam to them, and aided them to safety. Reed was tired and cold, but he recovered. William, meanwhile, struggled to stay afloat as others attempted to rescue him, and he then submerged. His body was recovered from the river the following day. He had drowned.
84075-9554 / 84219-9555
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Rochester, New York
Mustafa A. Said
Henrietta, New York
Christopher Patino and Mustafa A. Said rescued Nicole Bean from assault, Henrietta, New York, January 25, 2011. Nicole, 17, was walking through a grocery store when the man with her produced a kitchen knife and without provocation stabbed her repeatedly. She screamed for help. Customers, including Christopher, 16, and his friend, Said, 19, both high school students, approached the corner of the store where the assault was taking place. Coming into view of the scene, they saw the knife and that Nicole was bloodied. They immediately rushed the assailant, with Christopher shoving him off Nicole and struggling against him. Said joined in the struggle and removed the knife from the assailant, sustaining a severe laceration to his right hand while doing so. As Christopher, joined by another man, took the assailant to the floor and secured him, Said removed Nicole from the immediate scene. Police arrived shortly and arrested the assailant. Nicole was hospitalized for treatment of numerous stab wounds and lacerations. Christopher sustained a minor injury to his hand, and Said required overnight hospitalization for treatment, including suturing, of his wound.
83819-9556 / 83820-9557
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Summer N. White
Summer N. White attempted to save Rebecka J. Hall from being struck by a vehicle, Mulvane, Kansas, June 12, 2011. After a vehicular accident on an interstate highway at night, Hall, 32, lay injured and incapacitated on the roadway surface beside her car. White, 18, groom, was a passenger in a pickup truck that approached the scene and stopped. White left the pickup and went to Hall, who was screaming. She grasped Hall by the arms and started to move her from the lanes of travel when an oncoming truck struck Hall’s car. The car in turn spun around, striking Hall and White and knocking them to a point against the median barrier wall. Both women were taken to the hospital, where Hall was pronounced dead. White was detained three days for treatment, including surgery, of fractures to her collarbone, shoulder, and back and other injuries.
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