River Heights man recognized for his efforts to save girl from drowning

River Heights resident Austin Woods Ball, 33, was rewarded with a Carnegie Hero medal Wednesday for his efforts last year to save a 12 year-old girl from drowning. The Carnegie Hero Fund awards people throughout the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. Five of the 23 award recipients announced on Wednesday died while trying to save others.

Ball was in Torrey, Utah, near Capitol Reef National Park on July 15, 2011 when he helped save the life of a 12 year-old girl who was drawn into a strong current in the Fremont River below a 15-foot high waterfall. According to the <a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.carnegiehero.org/awardees_recent.php”>Carnegie Hero Fund Commission</a>, the girl was pulled into the turbulent water at the base of the waterfall and was struggling to stay afloat.

Ball was in the shallow water of a larger pool just downstream. He saw the girl struggle, grabbed a branch and wen to the rocky edge of the smaller pool. As the branch was not long enough, Ball jumped into the nine-foot-deep water and got closer to the girl.

Submerging repeatedly, the girl was unable to grasp the branch. Ball tossed the branch aside and struggled to reach the girl in the turbulent water. Both were overcome and submerged. About a minute later they were both swept from the pool into shallow water from which they were recovered, unconscious, by others.

Ball and the girl were revived at the scene and then taken to the hospital. Ball remained in the hospital overnight for treatment from nearly drowning but made a full recovery.

The heroes Carnegie Hero medals announced Wednesday mark 44 award recipients in 2012 and 9,539 total recipients since the Pittsburgh-based fund’s inception in 1904. Commission President Mark Laskow states that each of the award recipients will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 108 years since the fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $34.4 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

Winners of Carnegie Hero medals awarded Wednesday:

– Bobby Joe O’Quinn III, 19, of Bude, Miss., died trying to rescue two girls, ages 9 and 7, from drowning in a lake in April 2011.

– Kirk D. Haldeman, 51, of Ligonier, Pa., and Michael J. Ledgard, of Greensburg, Pa., rescued at least eight bar customers from assault after one customer fatally shot another in July 2011.

– Andrew Ian Hull, 35, of Bethel, Conn., a nurse wounded while rescuing a woman from being assaulted by a gunman at a hospital in March 2010.

– Nicole Autilio, 36, of Saugus, Mass., and Paul Corcoran, 59, of North Andover, Mass., saved a man from drowning when a car crashed into a creek in October 2010.

– Joseph Anthony Jones, 51, of Greenfield, Ohio, saved a woman and her infant daughter from burning in a crashed vehicle in January 2011.

– Kyle D. Austin, 13, of Mattwana, Pa., drowned trying to save a friend in a river in July 2011.

– David M. Reichenberg, 50, of Spring Valley, N.Y., was electrocuted while saving a boy, 6, who was shocked by a fallen power line during a storm in August 2011.

– Trevor Fox, 32, of Chino, Calif.; Anthony V. Savedra, 33, of Wildomar, Calif.; and Timothy Elbridge West, 41, of Riverside, Calif., rescued a man from burning in a helicopter crash in March 2011.

– Sean C.M. Vorel, 27, of Bennington, Neb., helped rescue a 78-year-old man from an attacking dog in June 2011.

– Connor M. Bystrom, 22, of Holmes Beach, Fla., rescued a man from an attack by a 9-foot bull shark in September 2011.

– Edward J. Power Jr., of Everett, Mass., died trying to rescue an 80-year-old woman from her burning apartment in March 2010.

– Austin Woods Ball, 33, of River Heights, Utah, tried to save a 12-year-old girl from drowning near a river waterfall in July 2011.

– Bryan Phillip Gross, 29, of Douglas, Wyo., died trying to save a girl from drowning in a river in July 2011.

– Christine A. Marty, 21, of Sarver, Pa., rescued a 69-year-old woman from her vehicle surrounded by flood waters in August 2011.

– Mitchell Mochinski, 22, of Lester Prairie, Minn., saved an 81-year-old man from drowning in November 2010.

– Zachary Michael Mortenson, 15, of Hamilton, Ohio, saved a man from drowning in a lake in June 2011.

– Laurie Ann Eldridge, 39, of Cameron, N.Y., saved an 81-year-old woman from being struck by a train when her car stopped on the tracks in June 2011.

– Craig A. Sibley, 53, of Caledon, Ontario, and Connor Frederick Klein, 16, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, saved a 61-year-old man from drowning in the Atlantic Ocean in March 2011.

Source: Carnegie Hero Fund Commission

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