Michael L. Wiant, who was rescued from a burning dump truck by Carnegie Hero Charles E. Wyant, presented the Carnegie Medal to Wyant at a presentation held at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, January 3, 2016 at the Grace Community Church in Curllsville, Pa.
Douglas R. Chambers, director of external affairs for the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, introduced those from the Commission who were in attendance, including President & Secretary Walter F. Rutkowski and Julia Panian, who investigated the case. Also in attendance was Carnegie Hero Terry George, who was awarded the Medal in 2004 for helping to save an 8-year-old girl from a burning house.
Chambers than read the summary of Wyant’s actions:
Charles E. Wyant rescued Michael L. Wiant from burning, Rimersburg, Pennsylvania, January 2, 2015. Wiant, 53, was the driver of a tri-axle dump truck that, in a highway accident, left the roadway, struck a guide rail and a utility pole, and then went down an embankment and overturned onto its passenger side in a shallow creek. One of the vehicle’s fuel tanks ruptured in the accident and soaked Wiant’s clothing with diesel fuel, and flames broke out in the engine compartment and grew and spread. Wiant’s safety belt released after he struggled with it, and he then attempted to climb through the opened window of the driver’s door. Wyant, 39, equine dentist, drove upon the scene and responded to the truck. Despite flames nine feet high issuing from its engine area, he climbed eight feet up the exposed underside of the vehicle and then advanced to the driver’s window, where Wiant was supporting his upper body outside the vehicle as his lower body remained suspended inside, amid flames that had entered the cab. Wyant grasped Wiant by an arm and pulled but could not lift him. Pulling again, hard, he lifted Wiant onto the side of the truck, although Wiant outweighed him. Wiant’s coat was aflame, and Wyant pulled it off him to find that flames had spread to Wiant’s shirt. Both men then jumped into the creek, where Wyant splashed Wiant to extinguish the flames. He then helped Wiant away from the truck and, with assistance from two other men, took him up the embankment to safety as flames grew to engulf and destroy the cab. Wiant was hospitalized for treatment of significant burns and other injuries.
He then asked both Wyant and Wiant to the stage. With a breaking voice, Wiant presented the Carnegie medal to Wyant, saying he thanks God every morning for bringing Wyant to him that day.
The audience, comprised of church members and members of Wyant and Wiant’s family, stood for Wyant, before he took to the pulpit to speak.
The crux of his message was that God was with him the day he rescued Wiant, and that as he moves forward, he is going to continue to live his life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
“How many people still need us? We walk around on the street every day, there’s people — they’re on fire; we may not know. Just a kind word is maybe all they need today,” Wyant said.