Carnegie Hero Joel Kevin Kyle, Jr., was presented with the Carnegie Medal at a private ceremony held February 5, 2016 in Altoona, Pa. Douglas R. Chambers, director of external affairs for the Commission presented the medal to an emotional Kyle.
To an audience of Kyle’s family and friends, as well as Commission case investigator Melissa A. McLaughlin, Chambers read the official summary of Kyle’s act.
Joel Kevin Kyle, Jr., saved Giovanni A. Bongiorno from burning, Altoona, Pennsylvania, May 4, 2014. Giovanni, 23 months, was in his crib in a bedroom on the second floor of his family’s two-story house after fire broke out in the adjacent bedroom, grew quickly, and filled that floor with dense smoke. Kyle, 29, cable construction employee, was visiting on the first floor when he was alerted to the fire. Knowing that Giovanni was on the second floor, Kyle ran up the stairs and made his way through a smoke filled hall, having to pass the room of origin, which was nearly engulfed by flame. He entered Giovanni’s bedroom, located the crib, and, tucking the boy under an arm, retraced his course through the hall as flames were starting to breach the burning room. Kyle ran down the stairs to safety with Giovanni as flames spread to enter the attic and burn through the roof, destroying the structure. Giovanni and Kyle were both taken to the hospital, where Giovanni was found to be uninjured and Kyle was treated for smoke inhalation, from which he recovered.
“Thank you very much. I’m very proud of myself for doing it. This is awesome,” said Kyle, who wiped away tears upon receiving the medal.
In addition, Kyle’s mother, Kathie Kyle, shared her memories of receiving a call the night of the rescue from Kyle, who was at the hospital.
“He said, ‘I saved a baby,'” she said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness!'”
Kyle’s girlfriend, Celestial “Cessy” Mills shared that Kyle’s musician friends wrote a heavy metal song about the rescue.
“It’s called ‘Joel Kyle Saved a Baby,'” she said, laughing.