Carnegie Medal presentation to JaCora Morris and Jasmine Lashale Morris

The Henderson/Morris family poses with U.S. Senator Joni Ernst who presented sisters JaCora Morris and Jasmine Lashale Morris with the Carnegie Medal for heroism on Feb. 23 at a presentation held at the West Des Moines, Iowa, City Hall. From left are father Tarbin Henderson, JaCora, mother Jacqueline Henderson, Jasmine, and Ernst.

JaCora and Jasmine entered near-freezing water to save two young boys from drowning after the boys broke through the ice of a pond near their West Des Moines, Iowa, apartment on Feb. 25, 2023. The boys struggled in water 6 feet deep at a point about 10 feet from the nearest bank. After calling out for her sister, Jasmine, 15 at the time of the rescue, entered the frigid water and swam to one of the boys. She attempted to break a path through the ice with her elbow, but failing to do that, she pushed the boy up onto the ice, so he could crawl to the safety of the bank. JaCora, 17, had entered the pond and pulled the other boy, who was sinking, up to the surface of the water. JaCora struggled to push the boy up onto the ice due to the weight of a backpack he wore. JaCora removed the backpack, letting it sink, and then pushed him up onto the ice. A bystander helped JaCora from the water, while Jasmine exited on her own. The sisters suffered minor cuts on their arms and legs but were otherwise uninjured.

“These are not given out every day, and so thank you, ladies, so much for your service to those who needed you at a split second,” said Ernst at the presentation.

Jasmine’s and JaCora’s parents attended the ceremony Friday. Tarbin said he felt “immensely proud” of his daughters.

Tarbin was a police officer in Arkansas, and one of his daughters had been on a ride-along with him, but said, “I never thought they would do this.”