Sheriff's Deputy wins Carnegie Medal for heroism - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Sheriff's Deputy wins Carnegie Medal for heroism

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  • La Crosse Co. deputy wins state heroism award

    La Crosse Co. deputy wins state heroism award

    La Crosse,WI (WXOW) A La Crosse deputy sheriff is receiving state wide recognition for putting his life on the line. Deputy John Williams received the Wisconsin Sheriff's and Deputy Sheriff's heroism award for rescuing a drowning man from the Mississippi river. Officer Williams described what happened that night back in June and how lucky both he and the man he rescued are to have made it to shore.More >>

PITTSBURGH (WXOW) - A La Crosse County Sheriff's Deputy who saved a man from drowning in the Mississippi River last June was one of 19 people nationwide to receive a Carnegie Medal for heroism.

Deputy John Williams risked his life on June 25, 2011 after answering a call about a man in the river near Riverside Park.  As the man struggled to stay afloat, Williams donned a life jacket and went into the water to get the man.  Following directions shouted at him by other officers on shore, Williams managed to eventually grab the man.  Wearing a life jacket designed for one person, the pair repeatedly went underwater for several minutes until a private boater and a fire department rescue boat were able to pull the men from the water.

Medalists or their heirs receive financial grants approved by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. More than $34 million has been awarded to nearly 10,000 honorees since the fund's inception in 1904. New recipients are announced four times a year.

Steel baron Andrew Carnegie started the fund after hearing rescue stories from a mine disaster that killed 181 people.

Besides Williams, a Farmington, Minnesota man whose story has a number of similarities to Williams'.

Anthony Johnson dove into the Mississippi River near Red Wing in May, 2011, to save a man.  Despite the strong current that pulled them several hundred feet downriver, Johnson was able to make it to shore where others helped pull them out.  Both men survived.

Others received the medal posthumously.  They include a Philadelphia teenager who drowned trying to save a friend in the tidal currents of the Delaware River.

Seventeen-year-old William Wilkinson died last year trying to save 18-year-old Jennifer Torres. Other people nearby rescued Torres and a man who had jumped into the water to help her but couldn't save Wilkinson.

Other medal winners are from Oregon, Alabama, New Mexico, California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Canada.

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