Two local men to receive Carnegie Medal

Published 11:38 pm Monday, December 14, 2020

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PITTSBURGH — The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission has announced 17 people will receive the highest honor for civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada for risking their lives for others in life-threatening peril. Among those receiving the medal are Robert Lawson, of King, and Jeffrey Johnson, of Winston-Salem.

After a July 11, 2019, highway crash in Winston-Salem involving a tractor-trailer and several other vehicles, a 64-year-old woman was pinned in the driver’s seat of her burning, heavily damaged car. Flames inside the car surrounded Susan R. Leonard, who unbuckled her seat belt but could
not open her door. Leonard screamed for help. Driving nearby, 32-year-old welder Robert Lawson and 47-year-old nurse Jeffrey Johnson stopped at the scene and ran to the car. Reaching the car first, Lawson pulled on the driver’s door handle, which broke off in his hand. He reached through the driver’s window and tried the interior handle, but the door failed to budge. When Johnson arrived, they both reached through the window, grasped Leonard’s arms and pulled her from the wreckage.

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who enter mortal danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. A total of 10,202 Carnegie Medals have been awarded since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission Chair Mark Laskow said each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 116 years since the fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, more than $42 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and
continuing assistance.