2 Sturgis officers receive Carnegie Medal for acts of extraordinary heroism

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Two Sturgis police officers are among the 18 individuals who will receive a Carnegie Medal — the highest honor for civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada.

The individuals who receive this award have risked their lives while trying to save others from drowning, burning vehicles, or burning homes. Three of the heroes died during their courageous acts, and will receive the honor posthumously.

Police officers Dylan M. Goetsch, age 37, and Sgt. Christopher W. Schmoker, age 37, arrived on the scene of a burning house in Sturgis, S.D., on May 12, 2018. Upon learning that 47-year-old Jason R. McKee was still inside, they entered the home. The kitchen was filled with dense smoke and visible flames, Goetsch and Schmoker moved to the homes upper level, Goetsch crawled to the bedroom to search for McKee, who was not there. Dense smoke made it impossible to see a few feet in front of them.

Goetsch exited the house and from the exterior, he climbed a ladder that was below McKee’s bedroom window. He heard breathing through the window opening. After confirming McKee’s location Goetsch returned to the front door where he and Schmoker reentered the house — they covered their mouths and faces with wet T-shirts. They ran to McKee’s bedroom, and with difficulty dragged him from the house as flames spread to the ceiling above them.

McKee was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and burns to his lungs, Goetsch and Schmoker sustained minor smoke inhalation, from which they recovered.

Other heroes being honored include, Zachary Salce and Maddison Henslin who crawled under flames to pull a downstairs neighbor from her burning apartment, and Maciej Kosiarski, a pizza delivery driver, who dropped into an overturned SUV’s passenger compartment to assist its driver to safety.

Summaries for all of the awardees are HERE.

The Carnegie Hero Fund was established on April, 15 1904 by Andrew Carnegie. The single event that stimulated Mr. Carnegie to organize the Fund was the Harwick mine disaster near Pittsburgh in January 1904, which claimed 181 lives. The victims included an engineer and a miner who went into the stricken mine in a valiant attempt to rescue others. The tragedy and the sacrifices so moved Mr. Carnegie that he promptly took action on his then-novel idea of honoring and helping “heroes of civilization.”

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. A total of 10,135 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 more than 115 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $41.3 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

“I do not expect to stimulate or create heroism by this Fund,” Mr. Carnegie wrote, “knowing well that heroic action is impulsive. But I do believe that, if the hero is injured in his bold attempt to serve or save his fellows, he and those dependent upon him should not suffer pecuniarily.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News