A disabled construction worker who rescued a 12-year-old from an attacking cougar and a pair of passers-by who saved an elderly woman from being run down by a train are among 26 people awarded Carnegie medals on Wednesday for their heroic acts.
The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission awarded the medals to a diverse group of Americans and Canadians, retelling the stories of courage that came to their attention from newspaper articles, tips or through its Web site.
Some of those honored as heroes died while trying to rescue people in danger. Others were injured in their attempts. Some saw the person they were trying to save die, despite their efforts.
The 26 recipients, or their survivors, will receive $6,000 in addition to the medal.
Their stories are the stuff of movies.
In August 2007, for example, disabled construction worker Marc Patterson, 45, kicked a cougar in the head repeatedly to try to get it to release 12-year-old Colton T.G. Reeb. When the animal refused, Patterson got down on his knees and applied pressure to the cougar’s neck, forcing it to release Colton.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Deborah Chiborak and Gerard Beernaerts were each passing separately by a railroad track in town when they saw 89-year-old Winifred M. Lindsay between the tracks, her motorized scooter on top of her.
As Chiborak was nearing the tracks, the crossing gates closed and bells indicated a train was nearing. Beernaerts, a city bus driver, was passing at the same time and jumped from his bus to assist.
With the train getting closer, the two heroes pulled Lindsay and her scooter from the track. The train rumbled by seconds after the three were safely off the tracks.
Others honored include Curtis Dawson, 47, of Astoria, Ore., who helped rescue a tugboat captain from drowning in the Columbia River; Dennis H. Morton, 38, of Prineville, Ore., who helped rescue Oma D. Pratt, 54, from her burning mobile home; and Samara Marie White, 15, of Davison, Mich., who died trying to save her 4-year-old sister from their burning home.
Steel baron Andrew Carnegie launched the hero fund in 1904 after hearing about rescue stories from a mine disaster that killed 181 people. Since then, $30.6 million has been awarded to 9,199 people. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission meets five times annually to choose honorees.
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