PITTSBURGH - A Wisconsin man who lunged in front of a train to save a 3-year-old from certain death and two men who entered a burning building to rescue two little girls were among 19 people awarded Carnegie medals Monday for their courage.
Merlin Harn, 40, and his wife were driving by a railroad track on Sept. 1, 2007, in their hometown of Menasha, Wis., when they saw an unattended 3-year-old boy wandering on the tracks.
Before police arrived, the crossing lights, bells and whistles went off. Harn ran to the boy, grabbed him under the arms and carried him to safety seconds before the train passed them, its emergency brake activated.
The Carnegie Heroes Fund gave its fourth group of awards this year to 19 people who risked their own lives to save others. Some of the people died or were injured rescuing others who were drowning, being attacked or were trapped in fires.
Another of the heroes, James Carpenter, was at his home in Gloversville, N.Y., when he noticed the house next door had gone up in flames. Running into the burning building, Carpenter, 28, made his way through dense smoke and found two girls trapped on the second floor. He grabbed 5-year-old Chelsea and made his way out of the house with her, but her 3-year-old sister, Jocelyn, remained inside.
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Leanue Davis Jr., who lived in the burning home, then entered, ran upstairs and called for the little girl. Grabbing Jocelyn, Davis realized the stairs were impassable. He went into a bedroom and lowered her out the window into the arms of two men outside.
Fire and drownings accounted for most of the disasters leading to heroism.
Among the other heroes was Walter Rosenthal, 58, of Toms Place, Calif. He died trying to save James J. Juarez and John S. McAndrews from suffocation after they were buried by snow at a resort in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., on April 6, 2006.
Steel baron Andrew Carnegie launched the hero fund in 1904 after hearing about rescue stories from a mine disaster that had killed 181 people. Since then, $31.1 million has been awarded to 9,243 people. Each recipient, or their heirs, receives $6,000 and a medal.
Recipients of the latest Carnegie Hero medals
Recipients of the Carnegie Hero medals, awarded Monday:
- Joshua James Lapp, 16, of Hesperia, Calif., helped to save Gloria Collins, 57, from a fire at her apartment in Sacramento, Calif., on July 14, 2007.
- Jason Christopher Byrnes, 33, of North Syracuse, N.Y., and Peter James Benedict, 33, of Cicero, N.Y., saved Michael D. LaSala, Josiah S. Thompson and Sheralyn J. Wellman from drowning and tried to save Anna E. Wright in Ellisburg, N.Y., on July 15, 2007.
- Jeffrey S. Peters Jr., 18, of Meadville, Pa., rescued Debra A. Knuth from a house fire in Meadville on Sept. 11, 2007.
- James C. Carpenter, 28, of Gloversville, N.Y., saved Chelsea M. Palma, and Leanue Davis Jr., 46, of Fayetteville, N.C., rescued Jocelyn L. Palma during a fire in Gloversville on Nov. 8, 2007.
- Clint J. Deniker, 35, of Grove City, Pa., saved Thomas B. Stevenson Sr. from a burning car after an accident in Grove City on April 4, 2008.
- Walter Rosenthal, 58, of Toms Place, Calif., died trying to save James J. Juarez and John S. McAndrews after snow buried them in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., on April 6, 2006.
- Shann Deon Day Sr., 36, of Fontana, Calif., died while trying to save Melvin M. Rabb from drowning in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 23, 2007.
- Carlton Green, 40, of Milton-Freewater, Ore., saved Adam K. Catania from an apartment fire in Walla Walla, Wash., on July 16, 2007.
- Kermit R. Kubitz, 60, of San Francisco, rescued Loren B. Schaller from an armed man who was assaulting her in San Francisco on May 19, 2007.
- Claude Ancel Walker IV, 33, of Rocklin, Calif., saved John A. Crabtree from burning in his tank truck after an accident in Roseville, Calif., on Dec. 3, 2007.
- Richard Anthony Tower, of 40, of Yreka, Calif., saved Dorothy M. Knudsen from drowning after a car accident in Horse Creek, Calif., on Sept. 19, 2007.
- Fred Hunt Jr., 51, of Berwick, Maine, died helping to save Maureen A. Jennings from drowning, and Qemal Agaj, 65, of Tampa, Fla., helped to save her in Cocoa Beach, Fla., on Oct. 22, 2007.
- Mark Andrew Sellers, 45, of Lancaster, Pa., saved Jordan R. Sweigart from a burning car in Lancaster on Nov. 17, 2007.
- Hoip B. Swaby, 31, of Brockton, Mass., helped to save John P. Kanash and Kenneth H. Schofield from drowning in a tunnel in Fall River, Mass., on Oct. 19, 2007.
- Merlin Harn, 40, of Menasha, Wis., saved a 3-year-old boy from being struck by a train in Menasha on Sept. 1, 2007.
- Michael J. Zimmerman, 53, of Morton, Ill., rescued Paul A. McCollar from a burning truck in Williamsfield, Ill., on Aug. 16, 2007.