Theodore R. Wall, 23, ship’s junior engineer, died attempting to save C. A. Stanley Olson, 32, pipefitter, from suffocation, San Francisco, California, January 2, 1930. Olson descended a ladder in the aft-peak ballast tank of a ship, in which the air was lacking in oxygen, and collapsed on a shelf 9.5 feet below the top. Wall ran from another part of the ship and arrived at the manhole of the tank somewhat winded. He descended the ladder to within two feet of Olson and then began to ascend quickly. When his head reached the manhole, he thrust his arms upward and was pulled out by men at the top, becoming unconscious. He quickly revived and was then warned to keep out of the tank until a gas mask was brought, but a few minutes later he said he would re-enter the tank. Wall was weak and dizzy. He brushed aside men who opposed his entering, descended the ladder, and started to put a rope around Olson but suddenly fell across him. Later a man wearing a smoke helmet descended the ladder and tied a rope on Wall, who was drawn out of the tank. Olson was also taken out on the rope. Neither could be revived.
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The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. With this first announcement of 2019 recipients, a total of 10,081 Carnegie Medals have been awarded since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission Chair Mark Laskow said each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the more than 115 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $40.8 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.