Awardees to get nods for heroism

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A Sarver woman who saved a 69-year-old woman from drowning in a flash flood and two men in Ligonier who wrestled a rifle from a man's hands are among 23 people to be recognized with the Carnegie Medal today for their heroic acts.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission honors citizens who have risked their lives to help others. Award recipients receive $5,000 cash rewards, and they or their survivors may qualify for one-time grants, scholarships, death benefits and other assistance.

Christine Marty and her mother, Marion, were caught in a flash flood along in the East End that killed four people on August 19, 2011.

The women escaped from their car and were separated by a current when Christine Marty caught sight of Roumianka Connolly, 69, of Lower Burrell still inside her sinking vehicle. Christine Marty swam to Ms. Connolly and pulled the woman from the vehicle.

The 21-year-old then held the woman above water as they swam toward a car and managed to hold on until rescuers saved them about 15 minutes later. Ms. Connolly later referred to Ms. Marty as "a guardian angel."

Commission president Mark Laskow said what struck him about Ms. Marty's situation was that she "had the ability to go to safety, but she didn't and stayed with the rescue," he said.

Kirk Haldeman, 51, of Ligonier, and Michael Ledgard, 52, of Greensburg, also were recognized for their instincts when a bar confrontation turned deadly on July 11, 2011.

A patron left after confronting another man and returned with a rifle. Mr. Hadleman charged the gunman from across the room, pushing the rifle upward as it fired. When Mr. Hadleman had the man against a wall, Mr. Ledgard then took both men to the ground and the gunman lost control of his rifle.

The men held the assailant until police arrived. The commission said they likely saved at least eight people. "These are not so much rewards for skills, but making a moral decision that risked their lives," Mr. Laskow said.

Five winners were killed trying to help others. One of them is 13-year-old Kyle Austin of Mattawana, Pa., who died trying to save his drowning friend in the Juniata River last summer.


Taryn Luna: 412-263-1985 or First Published June 27, 2012 12:00 AM


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