SALT LAKE CITY — They are regular, everyday students, mothers, fathers, brothers, law enforcement officers. But on Thursday, 14 Utahns were recognized as heroes for stepping out of their routines to help people in need.
Each has a small-town story of heroism that is not so small to the lives they saved or made better. Among them, a young mother, Natasha Cope, who said she "was in the right place at the right time, I guess."
It was a typical November day, as the 24-year-old sat on the bus, headed to the University of Utah. Only minutes later, the trained Army combat medic found herself telling the driver to stop so she could help an injured cyclist who had been hit by a car. Using her own coat and gloves, Cope kept the physics professor warm until paramedics could arrive.
"I knew that I could help, I was trained to help," she said, adding that she somehow remained calm through it all.
Cope earned the community safety hero award. The awards are given annually by the American Red Cross Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter.
Like nearly every recipient lauded Thursday, Cope was honored, but really didn't feel the recognition was necessary.
Others honored were:
• Cameron Korth, as Youth Good Samaritan Hero, for setting up a computer-programmed Christmas lights display that netted nearly $2,000 in donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help a very ill 4-year-old boy in his neighborhood.
• Duchesne County Sheriff Sgt. Brandon Adams, as First Responder Hero, for helping to rescue a woman from her vehicle, which had fallen into a large sinkhole that was filling with water on a Tabiona roadway last summer.
• Adrian Baum, as Water Rescue Hero, for abandoning a fishing trip to take multiple dives into the cold waters of Grantsville Reservoir, looking for a 9-year-old boy who had presumably drowned. Baum located the boy at the bottom and pulled him to the surface and swam him to shore, where others performed life-saving CPR.
• Brian Rowser, Paul McFee, Dick Buys and Erik Felsted, as Adult Good Samaritan Heroes, after responding to a helicopter crash and saving the pilot and his two passengers from what could have been an explosive situation.
• Salt Lake City Fire Battalion Chief Tom Roberson, as a Community Good Samaritan Hero, for founding Operation Cover-up, which collects and delivers gently used blankets and winter clothing to individuals throughout the city who are in need.
• Devin Whitehead, as Family Hero, after he carried his two younger siblings to safety upon discovering their Duchesne home was on fire. The 16-year-old burned his hands performing the rescue, but was grateful everyone was OK in the end, even if the home was a total loss.
• West Valley City police officer Kevin Peck, as Law Enforcement Hero, for making a difference to a woman who had become trapped under a bus. The officer stayed with the woman, holding her hand while rescuers worked fervently to free her and provide medical care.
• Jay and Talli Torgersen, as Medical Rescue Heroes, after they used their medical expertise to quickly perform rescue breathing on a 6-year-old boy who was trapped behind a waterfall at Capitol Reef National Park for three to five minutes before the boy's father located him. The boy survived, thanks to quick action by the Torgersens.
• Ken Kraudy, as Lifetime Achievement Hero, because of all the help he's offered the city of Sandy, as the emergency management coordinator, and for countless hours he's volunteered in disaster situations throughout the country.
Recipients are chosen by a selection committee comprised of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other leaders within the community. For more information about the awards, or to make a donation to the Red Cross in Utah, visit www.utahredcross.org.
The Red Cross in Utah responded to 123 emergency disaster events in the past year. More than 1,570 individuals and 168 families were assisted by 1,120 volunteer staff members. The Red Cross in 2011 also helped to train more than 40,835 people in first aid, CPR and other life-saving measures, and provided 4,175 homes in the state with heat and power. Approximately 122,200 Utahns donated blood at one of many drives held throughout the state, which supplied 33 local hospitals with much needed blood.
"I shudder to think what the world would be like without the American Red Cross," Herbert said during a ceremony honoring the 2012 heroes. He said Utah's culture of volunteerism helps to make it a place that boasts "the best quality of life."