Latest Carnegie Medal Awardees


PITTSBURGH, PA, June 30, 2015—In its second award announcement of 2015, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 18 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.

One of the awardees, S. Alexander Smith of Aloha, Ore., died in the performance of his heroic act. Alexander, 16, drowned July 1, 2014, attempting to save his younger brother in the Row River at Dorena, Ore. He and the other heroes announced today bring to 38 the number of awards made to date in 2015 and to 9,775 the total number since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission Chair Mark Laskow stated that each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 111 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $37.2 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

The awardees are:

Christopher Brooks King Roswell, N.M.
Martin V. Hohenstein Dakota City, Neb.
Lester J. Trafford III Hampton Bays, N.Y.
Craig Randleman Bend, Ore.
Thomas Joy Spokane, Wash.
Jason Connerley Spokane, Wash.
Robert A. Pritchard, Jr. Jacksonville, Fla.
Michael D. Campbell Hamilton, Ohio
S. Alexander Smith, deceased Aloha, Ore.
Cheryl A. Crecelius Gaston, Ore.
Jamison S. Koczan Winter Park, Fla.
Kimberly Lynn Groves Winter Springs, Fla.
Meghan O’Reilly-Green Perth Amboy, N.J.
Clinton D. Blackburn Morehead, Ky.
McKenzie McKay Guffey Gainesboro, Tenn.
Ryan Thomas Nelson Eagan, Minn.
Alan Cavener Nampa, Idaho
Bryon Snyder Topeka, Kan.

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 Find us on Facebook.

Roswell, New Mexico
Christopher Brooks King rescued Kimberly N. Rodriguez from burning, Roswell, New Mexico, January 31, 2014. Rodriguez, 38, was inside her one-story house after fire broke out at night in a bedroom and filled the structure with dense smoke. On duty, King, 29, police officer, responded to the scene. Learning that the house was occupied, he kicked open the front door, entered the living room, and, calling out, searched for Rodriguez. Unsuccessful in the deteriorating conditions, King exited the house, ran to its back door, which was open, and re-entered. Going to the floor in the dense smoke, which precluded visibility, King crawled through the kitchen, again calling for Rodriguez. He heard her reply and then found her, at a point about 12 feet into the house, lying on the floor near flames that were advancing from the bedroom. King stood and grasped Rodriguez, who was by then unconscious, but found that he could not lift her. Nearly overcome by smoke himself, he dragged Rodriguez by the arm through the kitchen and outside to safety. He collapsed there. Both Rodriguez and King were taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, Rodriguez requiring admission.
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Dakota City, Nebraska
Martin V. Hohenstein saved Fermin Urenda from burning, Dakota City, Nebraska, May 25, 2014. Urenda, 40, was trapped in the driver’s seat of a sport utility vehicle after a nighttime accident in which the vehicle left the highway, struck a pole, and broke into flames at its front end. Hohenstein, 51, contractor, was driving on the highway and came upon the scene just after the accident. Responding to the passenger side of the burning car, he opened the front door and saw that Urenda’s legs were trapped under the dashboard. When Hohenstein then approached the driver’s door and tried to open it but found it jammed shut, he leaned through the window opening and pulled on Urenda, but Urenda did not move. Making repeated entries through both front doors, entering the vehicle at least partially each time, Hohenstein struggled to free Urenda as flames on the vehicle grew. Successful in freeing only one of Urenda’s legs, Hohenstein stepped back from the vehicle to shield himself from the intense heat. He then returned to the driver’s door and, despite flames by then entering the vehicle, leaned inside, pulled hard on Urenda, and freed him. He took Urenda from the car to a point of safety as flames grew to engulf and destroy it. Urenda required hospital treatment, and Hohenstein was sore for a few days but recovered.
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Hampton Bays, New York
Lester J. Trafford III saved Scott C. Finne and attempted to save Stian Stiansen from drowning, Hampton Bays, New York, May 12, 2013. Finne, 42, and Stiansen, 85, were aboard a 45-foot commercial fishing boat when it capsized in rough surf of the Atlantic Ocean as it approached the mouth of an inlet leading to Shinnecock Bay on Long Island. Thrown into the 51-degree water, Finne grasped debris from the boat and stayed afloat as he drifted to a point about a mile off shore. Learning of the accident by radio, Trafford, 55, captain of a 24-foot towing boat, left mooring in the bay and proceeded to the inlet. Steady and gusting winds engendered five-foot seas with waves reaching nine feet breaking in the inlet and just off its mouth as a strong ebb current was emptying the bay. Although first-responding boats turned back, Trafford proceeded through the inlet and, spotting the wreckage of the fishing boat, proceeded toward it. He searched for survivors in the debris field before being directed to Finne’s position by a responding police helicopter. Proceeding toward Finne, Trafford positioned his boat about 18 feet from him and then drew him to the boat by means of a life ring attached to a line. The men returned to the wreckage and looked for Stiansen until they were relieved by a Coast Guard vessel, and they then traversed the inlet to return to safe harbor in the bay. Finne required hospital treatment for hypothermia. Stiansen drowned.
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Bend, Oregon

Spokane, Washington
Craig Randleman and Thomas Joy rescued Diamond D. White from attacking dogs, and Joy and Jason Connerley rescued Randleman, Spokane, Washington, April 3, 2014. Diamond, 8, was walking in an alley through a residential neighborhood when two dogs escaped from a nearby yard. One of the dogs took her to the ground, and the other, a 50-pound pit bull, began to maul her. Randleman, 50, was in his yard in that neighborhood and heard screaming. He ran to the scene, joined by another neighbor, Joy, 28, customer service representative. The men kicked and punched the attacking dog, removing it from Diamond, but when Randleman bent over her, that dog lunged at him, inflicting a severe bite wound to his face. As Randleman fought the dog, Joy took Diamond to safety and then returned and helped free Randleman of the dog before leaving for a weapon. Randleman ran to a neighboring yard, but the dog followed him there and resumed its attack. Breaking free again, he climbed over a chain-link fence to where he went to the ground, nearly exhausted. The dog followed, and as it tried to scale the fence, another man from the neighborhood, Connerley, 28, nutrition services employee, responded with a shovel and struck it repeatedly but was bitten by it and the other dog. Both dogs fled the scene. Diamond and Randleman both required hospital treatment for numerous lacerations, puncture wounds, and tears, Randleman requiring sutures for the wounds to his face and both arms. He recovered.
86552-9761 / 86554-9762 / 86553-9763
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Jacksonville, Florida
Robert A. Pritchard, Jr., saved Hattie Fowler from burning, Jacksonville, Florida, June 17, 2014. Hattie, 6, was in a bedroom of her family’s mobile home after flames erupted in that room. Standing at the bedroom window, she attracted the attention of Robert, 13, student, who was in the immediate vicinity. Robert advanced to the front door, opened it, and entered the structure, finding visibility inside obscured by smoke. Hearing Hattie cry, he proceeded to a hall that accessed the bedroom and, standing in the bedroom doorway, called to her. She ran into his arms. He picked her up and, carrying her, retraced his steps to the front door and exited the house to safety with her as flames spread rapidly in the structure. Four members of Hattie’s family died in the fire. Hattie required hospitalization for treatment of smoke inhalation. Robert was checked at the scene by medics for minor smoke inhalation, from which he fully recovered.
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Hamilton, Ohio
Michael D. Campbell rescued Danny J. Carroll from burning, Hamilton, Ohio, June 6, 2014. Carroll, 30, was in a second-floor bedroom of a two-story house when natural gas that had leaked into the structure exploded. Walls of the house and a portion of its roof were blown away, and the structure caught fire. Badly injured, Carroll was pinned to the floor by concrete debris from the chimney, which had collapsed. A neighbor, Campbell, 21, delivery truck driver, was driving nearby and witnessed the explosion. He went to the opened front door of the house and entered a few feet, but smoke repulsed him and he exited. Hearing Carroll yelling for help, he re-entered and, guided by Carroll’s cries, advanced to a spiral staircase, ascended, and found Carroll in the bedroom. He removed the debris from Carroll and dragged him to the top of the stairs. Supporting Carroll in a standing position, Campbell descended the stairs backward with him, passing flames that were issuing from a wall vent. When they reached the first floor, the second story partially collapsed. Campbell then hoisted Carroll over one shoulder and started toward the front door with him but fell to the floor en route. As he started to drag Carroll to the door, another man entered the structure and took Carroll outside to safety, Campbell following. Carroll and Campbell required hospital treatment, Carroll for significant burns and other injuries and Campbell for acute smoke inhalation.
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Aloha, Oregon
S. Alexander Smith died attempting to save Christian G. Smith from drowning, Dorena, Oregon, July 1, 2014. Christian, 13, slipped and fell into the Row River while trying to wade across it at a point above 15-foot-high Wildwood Falls, and the swift current carried him toward the brink of the falls. Alerted, his brother, Alexander, 16, high school student, who was on the bank, immediately ran about 35 feet to the river and entered it at a point just above the falls. He grasped Christian’s wrist when Christian came within reach, but the current pulled them both downstream. Separated, they were carried over the falls. Christian surfaced in a pool below the falls and made his way to safety, but Alexander became lodged in the falls by a log submerged there. His body was recovered five hours later, when the log was removed. He had drowned.
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Gaston, Oregon
Cheryl A. Crecelius saved Jason K. Eaton and helped to save Mark A. Vanvleck from burning, Gaston, Oregon, March 29, 2014. Eaton and Vanvleck, both 25, were unconscious in the front seats of a sport utility vehicle that caught fire in a highway accident at night. Off duty, Crecelius, 46, sheriff’s deputy, responded from nearby, finding that both front doors of the vehicle were jammed shut. Despite flames issuing from the vehicle’s engine compartment and growing, Crecelius fully entered the passenger compartment through the vehicle’s rear, passenger-side door. After releasing both men’s safety belts, she reclined Eaton’s seat and, in repeated attempts, was successful in freeing and pulling him into the back-seat area. She backed from the vehicle, pulling Eaton out. Re-entering, with flames by then reaching the floor at the front of the passenger compartment, Crecelius pulled Vanvleck from the driver’s side to the passenger side, but he remained trapped by the feet. A motorist who had stopped at the scene took Crecelius’s place inside the vehicle, and he was successful in freeing and removing Vanvleck. Crecelius and the motorist then moved Vanvleck and Eaton farther away to safety. Vanvleck and Eaton required hospital treatment, and Crecelius suffered minor smoke inhalation, from which she recovered.
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Winter Park, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Jamison S. Koczan and Kimberly Lynn Groves rescued a woman from assault, Winter Park, Florida, June 16, 2014. After her husband struck her, forced her into his pickup truck, and then threatened her with a handgun, a 40-year-old woman opened the vehicle’s passenger door and screamed for help as the assailant attempted to drive from the parking lot of an office complex. At work in one of the nearby buildings, Koczan, 38, video editor, and Groves, 52, company vice president, witnessed the attack. They left the building and approached the truck, Koczan going to its passenger side. He reached into the vehicle, grasped the woman, and pulled her from the assailant’s grasp. The assailant left the vehicle and, pointing the gun at Koczan and Groves, threatened to shoot Koczan if he did not release the woman. Koczan ran with the woman away from the vehicle and circled back to his office building, the assailant in pursuit. At a point about four feet from the building’s front door, Koczan fell to the pavement, the assailant about 15 feet behind him. Groves, who had arrived about then, took the woman into the building and locked themselves in a private office. Koczan regained his footing, fled into the building, and locked the door behind him, but the assailant broke through the door, using the butt of his gun. He proceeded to the private office and, threatening Groves with the gun, demanded that she release his wife. Groves refused him. The assailant left the building and fled the scene in his truck but later turned himself in to police.
86754-9768 / 86752-9769
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Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Meghan O’Reilly-Green helped to save Thomas J. Wadkins, Jr., from drowning, Hatteras, North Carolina, July 14, 2013. While swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, Wadkins, 26, and a friend attempted to return to shore but made no progress against a very strong current, which took them farther out. They shouted for help. In another party at the scene, O’Reilly-Green, 31, student, was walking on the beach and heard them. Although she was seven months pregnant, she took a boogie board from nearby, entered the water, and swam out to the men, who were about 300 feet from shore. After giving Wadkins the board, which was then lost to the surf, she attempted to position him for towing, but a struggle between them ensued, during which O’Reilly-Green was submerged. Freeing herself, O’Reilly-Green swam to another responding rescuer, took a boogie board from him, and returned to Wadkins. Securing Wadkins to the board, she pushed him out of the strong current and toward shore, reaching water atop a sandbar. Fatigued, O’Reilly-Green returned to the beach as arriving first responders entered the water to take Wadkins, and others who had been caught by the current, to safety. Wadkins and O’Reilly-Green swallowed water, and O’Reilly-Green was extremely fatigued. Both recovered.
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Morehead, Kentucky
Clinton D. Blackburn rescued Darrell L. Herndon from assault, Bardstown, Kentucky, March 12, 2014. A jailer, Herndon, 56, was transporting a male prisoner in a police cruiser when the prisoner, who was in the back seat, slipped from his handcuffs and partially entered the vehicle’s front-seat area through a small opening in the passenger compartment partition. Extending an arm around Herndon’s neck, the prisoner began to choke him, but Herndon was able to maintain control of the vehicle as he pulled it from the highway partially onto the grass median. Approaching the scene from the opposite direction, Blackburn, 44, truck driver, saw Herndon’s vehicle lurch from the highway and come to an abrupt stop, and he then witnessed the assault. Blackburn pulled his truck off the highway, exited, and ran to the driver’s side of the police cruiser. By then, the assailant had completely entered the front-seat area and was continuing to choke Herndon. Partially entering the vehicle, Blackburn pushed the assailant away from Herndon, breaking his chokehold, but the assailant then removed Herndon’s gun from its holster and threatened to kill them both. Blackburn grabbed the barrel of the gun and struggled against the assailant for control of it as Herndon dropped from the vehicle to the ground. Able to twist the gun from the assailant’s grasp, Blackburn held him at gunpoint until Herndon recovered and secured him. Herndon sought hospital treatment for minor injury, and Blackburn sustained bruising and a cut. Both recovered.
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Gainesboro, Tennessee
McKenzie McKay Guffey saved Jeffrey Hakner from burning, Rye, New York, July 17, 2014. Hakner, 45, was trapped inside his sport utility vehicle after a nighttime accident on an interstate highway in which the vehicle overturned onto its driver’s side and caught fire at its front end. Traveling on the same highway, Guffey, 39, truck driver, came upon the scene and stopped. He took a fire extinguisher to the vehicle and emptied it on the flames but did not extinguish them and they grew, entering the passenger compartment. Seeing Hakner inside the car, Guffey used the fire extinguisher to break out the window of the front passenger door, which was then atop the vehicle. As Hakner stood and reached toward the opening, Guffey, despite flames at his feet, stepped onto the wreckage at the windshield, reached into the opening, and grasped him. Stepping back to the pavement, he pulled Hakner through the opening, taking him to the pavement, and then dragged him to safety. Flames grew quickly to fill the vehicle, destroying it. Hakner required hospitalization for treatment of his injuries, but he was not burned. Guffey suffered minor burns to his feet as well as cuts and scratches but did not require medical treatment. Both recovered.
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Eagan, Minnesota
Ryan Thomas Nelson rescued Matthew J. Heisler from burning, Grand Forks, North Dakota, March 16, 2014. Heisler, 21, was alone in the one-story house he rented with three other college students after fire broke out in the kitchen at night. One of his roommates, Nelson, 21, discovered the fire as he was returning home. He opened the front door to dense smoke and entered, shouting for Heisler, but the smoke forced him back outside. Nelson then ran to the rear of the structure and broke out a window to Heisler’s bedroom. He climbed through the window, searched the room, and then exited the house after not finding Heisler there. Returning to the front of the house, he re-entered again, crouched, and in dissipating smoke saw Heisler lying unconscious on the floor of the living room, several feet from the door. Nelson went to Heisler, grasped him under the arms, and dragged him to the front door and to safety, where he worked to resuscitate him. Heisler was taken to the hospital and died there of smoke inhalation. Nelson also required hospital treatment for smoke inhalation, and he fully recovered.
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Nampa, Idaho
Alan Cavener rescued a man from an out-of-control vehicle, Meridian, Idaho, August 11, 2013. An elderly man was driving a sport utility vehicle the wrong way on an interstate highway, the speed limit on which was 65 m.p.h. Driving on the same highway, Cavener, 54, an off-duty police officer from another municipality, came upon the scene and saw other motorists swerving around the vehicle. He drove to a point ahead of the vehicle and parked on his lanes’ inner shoulder. Exiting his car, Cavener climbed over a concrete barrier and ran across three lanes of traffic to meet the man’s vehicle, which was approaching at a speed of less than 5 m.p.h. When he shouted at the man to stop, the man rolled down the window of the driver’s door but continued. Running alongside the car, Cavener reached through the opened window and grasped the steering wheel. After continuing for about 75 feet, Cavener saw a break in the oncoming traffic and steered the vehicle off the highway to safety on the shoulder.
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Topeka, Kansas
Bryon Snyder saved a woman from assault, Topeka, Kansas, June 30, 2014. A 44-year-old woman ran toward a convenience store in an attempt to escape her ex-boyfriend, who, armed with a handgun, had abducted and threatened her. The assailant followed her. Snyder, 36, computer application analyst, was entering the store when he saw the woman approach, shouting for help. He held the door for her, and she ran into the store and locked herself in the store’s office. From inside the store, Snyder then saw the assailant approach, and he remained at the door and held it shut against the assailant. After a brief verbal exchange with Snyder, the assailant produced his gun and at point-blank range fired into the glass door, the shot striking Snyder in his right hand and torso. Snyder fell to the floor. Two men in the store were in a bullet-resistant cashier’s enclosure, and the assailant, entering the store, demanded of them and Snyder to know the woman’s location. He then fired two shots at the enclosure and threatened to shoot Snyder again if the men did not cooperate. As the assailant searched the store, Snyder crawled through the front door and shouted for help, attracting the attention of those who then aided him. The assailant exited through the front door shortly and fled the scene, but he was later apprehended by police. The woman was not injured. Snyder was hospitalized eight days for treatment, including surgery, of his injuries, including to his right thumb, which was permanently damaged.
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