PITTSBURGH — Two men who subdued a gunman in a crowded western Pennsylvania bar and a woman who swam through a flash flood to save an elderly woman in Pittsburgh are among 23 people being honored with Carnegie medals for heroism.
Kirk Haldeman, 51, of Ligonier, and Michael Ledgard, 52, of Greensburg, saved several customers after 40-year-old Stephen Fromholz, an out-of-town laborer, allegedly shot a patron at a Ligonier bar July 11. Haldeman ran across the barroom and pushed the semi-automatic assault rifle upward until Ledgard, another customer, joined Haldeman in subduing Fromholz.
The suspect, who remains jailed in Westmoreland County awaiting trial on charges that he killed patron Donald Holler after arguing about what each wanted to watch on the bar’s television, dropped his gun in the scuffle. The two men being honored Tuesday are credited with saving the lives of eight to 10 other patrons in the bar, plus an unspecified number of diners in an adjoining room.
Five of those being honored Tuesday died during rescue attempts, including Sheriff’s Deputy Bryan Phillip Gross, 29, of Douglas. He died trying to save a girl from drowning in a river in July 2011.
During National Peace Officer’s Week in May, his wife Amy Gross, mother Cindy Allen, father Phillip Gross and other family members and coworkers — many from the Converse County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas Police Department — were invited to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial in Washington, D.C., and listened as President Barack Obama spoke of Gross and his heroic efforts, according to the Douglas Budget.
“Last summer, the North Platte River was running high near Douglas, Wyo., when a teenage girl got caught in the current,” Obama said. “Deputy Bryan Gross, of the Converse County Sheriff’s Office, jumped in after her.
“The girl was eventually pulled from the water, but Deputy Gross was swept away. And he is survived by his wife, Amy. Today, we remember a man who swore to protect his neighbors, and who kept that promise no matter what the cost.
“I suspect that at that moment, Deputy Gross wasn’t trying to be a hero; he was just doing his job,” the President went on to say. “You can find that bravery, the courage to do your duty, day in and day out, in so many officers across our country.”
Also honored posthumously for rescue attempts in which they died were Bobby Joe O’Quinn III, 19, of Bude, Miss.; David Reichenberg, 50, of Spring Valley, N.Y.; Edward Power Jr., 76, of Everett, Mass.; and
Kyle Austin, 13, of Mattawana. Austin died trying to save a friend from drowning in the Juniata River at McVeytown on July 21. The other boy drowned, too.
Carnegie medalists or their heirs receive financial grants approved by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. More than $34.4 million has been awarded to 9,539 honorees since the fund’s inception in 1904. New recipients are announced four times a year.
Steel baron Andrew Carnegie was inspired to start the fund after hearing rescue stories from a mine disaster that killed 181 people.
The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, based in Pittsburgh, says its mission is to recognize people who perform heroic acts in civilian life and to provide financial help to those disabled, or to the dependents of those killed, by their heroism.
Winners of Carnegie Hero medals awarded Wednesday:
— Bobby Joe O'Quinn III, 19, of Bude, Miss., died trying to rescue two girls, ages 9 and 7, from drowning in a lake in April 2011.
— Kirk D. Haldeman, 51, of Ligonier, Pa., and Michael J. Ledgard, of Greensburg, Pa., rescued at least eight bar customers from assault after one customer fatally shot another in July 2011.
— Andrew Ian Hull, 35, of Bethel, Conn., a nurse wounded while rescuing a woman from being assaulted by a gunman at a hospital in March 2010.
— Nicole Autilio, 36, of Saugus, Mass., and Paul Corcoran, 59, of North Andover, Mass., saved a man from drowning when a car crashed into a creek in October 2010.
— Joseph Anthony Jones, 51, of Greenfield, Ohio, saved a woman and her infant daughter from burning in a crashed vehicle in January 2011.
— Kyle D. Austin, 13, of Mattwana, Pa., drowned trying to save a friend in a river in July 2011.
— David M. Reichenberg, 50, of Spring Valley, N.Y., was electrocuted while saving a boy, 6, who was shocked by a fallen power line during a storm in August 2011.
— Trevor Fox, 32, of Chino, Calif.; Anthony V. Savedra, 33, of Wildomar, Calif.; and Timothy Elbridge West, 41, of Riverside, Calif., rescued a man from burning in a helicopter crash in March 2011.
— Sean C.M. Vorel, 27, of Bennington, Neb., helped rescue a 78-year-old man from an attacking dog in June 2011.
— Connor M. Bystrom, 22, of Holmes Beach, Fla., rescued a man from an attack by a 9-foot bull shark in September 2011.
— Edward J. Power Jr., of Everett, Mass., died trying to rescue an 80-year-old woman from her burning apartment in March 2010.
— Austin Woods Ball, 33, of River Heights, Utah, tried to save a 12-year-old girl from drowning near a river waterfall in July 2011.
— Bryan Phillip Gross, 29, of Douglas, Wyo., died trying to save a girl from drowning in a river in July 2011.
— Christine A. Marty, 21, of Sarver, Pa., rescued a 69-year-old woman from her vehicle surrounded by flood waters in August 2011.
— Mitchell Mochinski, 22, of Lester Prairie, Minn., saved an 81-year-old man from drowning in November 2010.
— Zachary Michael Mortenson, 15, of Hamilton, Ohio, saved a man from drowning in a lake in June 2011.
— Laurie Ann Eldridge, 39, of Cameron, N.Y., saved an 81-year-old woman from being struck by a train when her car stopped on the tracks in June 2011.
— Craig A. Sibley, 53, of Caledon, Ontario, and Connor Frederick Klein, 16, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, saved a 61-year-old man from drowning in the Atlantic Ocean in March 2011.