16 York County Good Samaritans honored with Carnegie Medals since 1906

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Ron Gross won a Carnegie Medal for intervening during an assault in York in 2003. He’s one of a handful of York countians ever awarded the medal. Background posts: York County educator recalls machete attack on ‘I survived’, War memorials stand proudly in towns through York County and Hollywood discovers heroics of Four Chaplains.

When Hanover’s Craig Gouker received a post-humous Carnegie Medal recently, his name was placed on an honored list occupied by only 15 other York countians in the past 100 years.
York criminal defense attorney Ron Gross was the last county resident to be so honored for coming to the aid of a court stenographer under attack on a York street in 2003.
Another Hanoverian, Oliver L. Schmuck was the first. He also died trying to save a fellow student from a Cornell University fire in 1906… .


Here is the York Daily Record/Sunday News’ and Associated Press story on Craig Gouker’s honors followed by a list of other York County recipients in history:

A Hanover man who died trying to save another man from a vault is among 26 people awarded Carnegie medals Wednesday for their heroic acts.
Craig M. Gouker, 47, of Hanover, died trying to save Cesar Salazar, 22, from suffocating in an underground vault in Owings Mills, Md., on Aug. 16, 2006. Both men asphyxiated.
The list of heroes also included a disabled construction worker who rescued a 12-year-old from an attacking cougar and a pair of passers-by who saved an elderly woman from being run down by a train.
The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission awarded the medals to a diverse group of Americans and Canadians, retelling the stories of courage that came to their attention from newspaper articles, tips or through its Web site.
Some of those honored as heroes died while trying to rescue people in danger. Others were injured in their attempts. Some saw the person they were trying to save die despite their efforts.
The 26 recipients, or their survivors, will receive $6,000 in addition to the medal.
Their stories are the stuff of movies.

Into the vault

Craig M. Gouker, 47, a foreman at a construction site in Owings Mills, Md., was alerted on the job in August 2006 that one of his workers was in trouble.
At work on a paving job, Cesar Salazar, 22, had entered the manhole of a below-ground vault to retrieve a tool when he lost consciousness in the oxygen-deficient atmosphere. Salazar fell to the bottom of the 24-foot-deep vault.
Gouker climbed through the manhole and began to descend to Salazar. He too lost consciousness and fell to the bottom of the vault. Responding rescue personnel removed both men and then worked to resuscitate them. Both died of asphyxia.
Fighting the cougar
In August 2007, disabled construction worker Marc Patterson, 45, kicked a cougar in the head repeatedly to try to get it to release 12-year-old Colton T.G. Reeb. When the animal refused, Patterson got down on his knees and applied pressure to the cougar’s neck, forcing it to release Colton.
Colton fled to safety, and Patterson struggled briefly with the cougar before getting away. The boy was hospitalized for two weeks and required nearly 300 stitches to close his head wound.
Off the train tracks
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Deborah Chiborak and Gerard Beernaerts were each passing separately by a railroad track in town when they saw 89-year-old Winifred M. Lindsay between the tracks, her motorized scooter on top of her.
As Chiborak was nearing the tracks, the crossing gates closed and bells indicated a train was nearing. Beernaerts, a city bus driver, was passing at the same time and jumped from his bus to assist.
With the train getting closer, the two heroes pulled Lindsay and her scooter from the track. The train rumbled by seconds after the three were safely off the tracks, stopping more than 600 feet beyond them.
Steel baron Andrew Carnegie launched the hero fund in 1904 after hearing about rescue stories from a mine disaster that killed 181 people. Since then, $30.6 million has been awarded to 9,199 people.
16 honored from York County
Craig M. Gouker is the 16th person from York County to receive the Carnegie Medal for heroism in the 100 years the honor has been awarded. Other local Carnegie Medal recipients:
– Ronald J. Gross, a York defense attorney, rescued a courthouse stenographer from a gun-wielding assailant on a city street Sept. 30, 2003.
– Timothy R. Brooks, of Hanover, who helped save a 17-year-old from drowning in a Spring Grove lake when the boy fell through the ice while skating on Dec. 28, 1960;
– Charles L. Curvin, of Goldsboro, who died on Feb. 19, 1920, while trying to save a co-worker from a moving train;
– Harry F. Druck, of York, who saved an 8-year-old girl who ran in front of a moving train on Feb. 11, 1933;
– Jonathan M. Fisher, of Peach Bottom, who rescued a woman from a small airplane that crashed and caught fire near his construction site in Radnor on July 16, 1990;
– Thomas Lowe Jr., of York, who saved an 8-year-old boy from drowning in the Susquehanna River on April 29, 1959;
– Edmund R. Loyd, of York, who saved a woman and child from drowning in the Susquehanna River on Aug. 17, 1942;
– Eugene W. Rife, of Hanover, who died trying to save a swimmer in a Hanover quarry on July 7, 1912;
– Oliver L. Schmuck, of Hanover, who died trying to save a fellow student from a fraternity house fire at Cornell University on Dec. 7, 1906;
– J. Seybold, of Manchester, who rescued a man from an apartment blaze in Chambersburg on March 11, 1997;
– Dwayne E. Smeltzer, of Windsor, who rescued a 1-year-old boy from a burning home on Aug. 27, 1990;
– John C. Streeb, of Hanover, who rescued a 2-year-old girl in a runaway car that was heading for a set of gas pumps on Nov. 18, 1990;
– George A. Trish, of Hanover, who died trying to save an 11-year-old girl from drowning in the south branch of the Conewago Creek on July 4, 1936;
– Kenneth M. Walker, of Hanover, who saved three co-workers from potentially fatal falls when a scaffold collapsed as they worked under a bridge in Edgely on July 19, 1955;
– Linda M. Whitehead, of York, who stopped a man who was stabbing his estranged wife in an elementary school parking lot in Canton on March 20, 1995.
–Source: Carnegie Hero Fund Commission

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.

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