A Carnegie Medal presentation was held Aug. 16 in Eagan, Minn., in which Ryan Thomas Nelson received the award from Carnegie Medal awardee John P. Williams of LaCrosse, Wis., one of the Hero Fund’s volunteer presenters.
In March, 2014, Nelson pulled college roommate Matthew J. Heisler from their burning house in Grand Forks, N.D. Heisler, 21, was alone in the house after flames broke out at night. Nelson returned home and discovered the fire. Nelson opened the front door to dense smoke and entered, shouting for Heisler, but the smoke forced him outside. He ran to the rear of the house and broke out a window to Heisler’s room, climbed through it, and searched the room for him, but did not find him. Nelson exited the house through the window and re-entered through the front door, crouched. He found Heisler lying unconscious several feet from the door and dragged him outside to safety, where he worked to resuscitate him. Heisler was taken to the hospital and died there of smoke inhalation. Nelson also required hospital treatment for smoke inhalation, and he fully recovered.
Heisler’s parents, Jared and Cheryl Heisler, joined Nelson’s parents, Tom and Carla Nelson, at the presentation. Jared Heisler had nominated Nelson for the award, and, according to Williams, was excited to see it. Williams described the presentation as a “great moment.”
Williams, a deputy investigator for the LaCrosse County Sheriff’s Department, received the Carnegie Medal in 2012 for a water rescue in the Mississippi River at night.