Carnegie Hero Gerald M. Forrester, 82, died Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Shelton, Washington.
Forrester was awarded the Carnegie Medal for saving the life of fellow Carnegie hero Richard Swenson from electrocution in Vaughn, Washington, on July 4, 1964. When a power line carrying 7,200 volts of electricity accidentally was severed, it fell on two girls, ages 2 and 4, who lost consciousness. Swenson, 18, saw the wire sparking at its points of contact with the girls. He immediately sprinted between them, dragging the power line from them but lost consciousness when his body touched it. Swenson slumped to a kneeling position beyond the two girls with the sparking wire in contact with his body and hands. Forrester ran to Swenson, leaped into the air, and thrust against him with his feet. The impact knocked Swenson backward to a prone position but did not free him from the wire. Forrester obtained a pair of pruning shears which were nearby, and holding them by their wooden handles, cut the wire near Swenson. Swenson and the girls that were electrocuted recovered but suffered third degree burns. Swenson’s burns resulted in the loss of one finger and part of another.
Forrester was proud of his Scottish heritage. As a young man in Canada, he served in Princess Mary’s Scottish Regiment. Jerry was an inspector and adjudicator for Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, working out of Tacoma. He was a past Battalion Chief for Lake Bay Fire Department and was integral in its formation. Jerry loved dogs, children, fishing, and telling very bad jokes. He also loved international trucks, all types of tractors and heavy equipment, and garage sales. He was known in his hometown of Vaughn as a man who could spend hours at an antique tractor show or a hardware store, and be entertained by both. He is survived by his sister, Jane Preppernau
He was preceded in death by brothers, Del Burnett and James ‘Jim’ Swindall.