Camille Mikalik helped to rescue Robert J. and Rachel M. Halbritter from burning, Morgantown, West Virginia, November 7, 2000. Twins Robert and Rachel, 9, were in their family’s home when a massive explosion of leaking natural gas reduced the one-story house to a pile of rubble. Debris trapped the children in the basement as flames were spreading nearby. Mikalik, 47, blender, had been in a vehicle in the neighborhood when he heard the explosion, then saw falling debris. He and others immediately responded to the scene, where he learned that the children were trapped in the debris. Mikalik and other men mounted the pile of rubble and pulled pieces of debris from it to locate Robert and Rachel. Mikalik then held up a section of interior wall to help create a hole in the debris allowing access to the basement. The children were removed through the hole, then they, Mikalik, and the other men fled from the debris, which was covered by 30-foot flames within a minute. Robert and Rachel were hospitalized for treatment of burns and cuts, and they recovered.
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Camille Mikalik, 66, of Morgantown, W.Va., retired after 20 years from Mylan Pharmaceuticals, where he had been employed as a department coordinator. A 1970 graduate of Mapletown High School in Greensboro, Pa., he also had worked in area strip mines for a number of years.
Born to Alex and Elizabeth Nassar Mikalik on Dec. 28, 1952, in Morgantown, W.Va., Mikalik was raised in Dilliner, Pa. Always the life of a party, in his spare time, Mikalik enjoyed playing softball, poker, pool, golf, and just spending time with his close friends.
In 2001, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission honored Mikalik and others for rescuing two children trapped in the basement of their Morgantown home following a natural gas explosion. Reader’s Digest chronicled the rescue in an article.
Mikalik, who died on July 15, 2019, in Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, was buried in a family plot at Monongahela Hill Cemetery, Greensboro, Pa.
(Edited from an obituary published in the Observer-Reporter newspaper in Washington, Pa., on July 17, 2019.)