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Locals honored as Carnegie Heroes

October 2, 2008 5:11:20 AM PDT
A California woman hit in the face with a meat cleaver while trying to rescue a neighbor from an armed assailant, and a Louisiana father and son who died trying to save relatives from drowning in Florida, were among 25 people awarded Carnegie medals on Thursday for their heroism.

Diane D. Cox, 52, of Newbury Park, Calif., rushed to the aid of 33-year-old Sandra Ruiz, who was being attacked by a man wielding a meat cleaver in the courtyard of her apartment complex in August 2007.

After shouting at the assailant to stop, Cox jumped on him, knocking him off Ruiz. Even after the man hit Cox in the face with the cleaver, she got on top of him and held him down until another resident arrived and disarmed him. Cox suffered a fracture and laceration of her face that required stitches.

The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Commission awarded the medals to a diverse group. Some died while trying to rescue people. Others were injured in their attempts.

Jarmaine E. Ravenell, 25, of Ewing, N.J., and Javier Jimenez, 34, of Trenton, N.J., rescued Keisha L. Downing, 36, as she was being attacked by a man armed with a knife in downtown Trenton on Aug. 13, 2007.

Dominique Chatman, 24, of Baton Rouge, La., and his father, Gregory J. Carson, 43, of Slidell, La., died on Sept. 11, 2007, while trying to rescue two women from drowning at Miramar Beach, Fla. The two women were holding onto a small surfboard, struggling to return to the beach, when they called for help.

Chatman, Carson and another man swam out to the women, who ultimately reached safety. Chatman and Carson drowned.

Other acts of heroism that were recognized:

Craig L. Wenner, 50, of Brookville, Ohio, died trying to save his wife from drowning on Dec. 25, 2006, in Englewood, Ohio. His wife, Patricia, also drowned. She had entered the Stillwater River to pull the family dog from the churning water.

In Indianapolis, 19-year-old William Dean Basler of Las Vegas chased a runaway horse-drawn carriage to rescue two women. Basler got into a taxi which drove ahead of the carriage and, as the carriage approached he climbed onto its side and reined in the horse.

Also honored were Joshua E. Huffman, 32, of Pandora, Ohio, who saved an 11-year-old boy and a 61-year-old woman who were in a car that was washed from a flooded road into a flooded field; police Officer Scott Leland McGrain, 32, of Horseheads, N.Y., who pulled a 12-year-old boy from the rubble of a house demolished by a natural gas explosion; college student Lindsey A. Witherspoon, 18, of Kingsport, Tenn., who helped save a woman whose car went into Fort Patrick Henry Lake; and Ronald Thomas, 56, of Wellsville, N.Y., who died trying to save a 16-year-old boy who fell into the turbulent Genesee River while trying to save his father.

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, $30.9 million has been awarded to 9,224 people. The recipients, or their survivors, receive $6,000 in addition to the medal. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission meets five times annually to choose honorees.

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On the Net:

Carnegie Hero Fund: http://www.carnegiehero.org

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