Two Texas men who jumped 40 feet from a highway bridge into a Louisiana swamp to rescue a floundering truck driver were among 20 people from nine states and Canada honored Wednesday by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.
Five of those named by the commission died while trying to save others. The commission distributed $50,000 in awards to the 20 latest heroes or their survivors.William F. Kessler, 24, of Houston and F. James Lalumandier, 23, of Bryan, Texas, were traveling separately Aug. 11 on Interstate 10 near Grosse Tete, La., when they saw the wrecked truck of Robert H. Fordham, 40.
Fordham was thrown clear and landed in the murky water of the swamp, but his injuries prevented him from swimming. He called for help and went under repeatedly.
Kessler and Lalumandier jumped together, feet first, and swam with Fordham about 40 feet to land. Fordham was hospitalized five days for back and hip injuries.
They are among 7,294 people honored in the 84 years since industrialist Andrew Carnegie established the fund. The commission has distributed more than $17.6 million in one-time payments and pensions in recognition of acts of heroism.
Among others honored today were Stephen Douglas Gragg, 8, and Chad Eugene Gragg, 12, of Buckner, Mo., who fell through ice and drowned Feb. 4 along with their brother, Aaron, 11, who fell through ice on a small pond and called to them for help.