Local Man Receives Carnegie Medal for Rescuing Woman at Wright Patman Spillway

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We were all shocked, amazed, and saddened at the story and video of Dustin Roach diving into that churning water at the Wright Patman Spillway and saving the life of Lucia M. Mendoza, 29, in a horrific accident that claimed the life of her husband. Dustin is now one of 17 civilians to be named winners of the Carnegie Medal for Heroism.

From the Carnegie Foundation:

Twenty-nine-year-old Lucia M. Mendoza struggled in the turbulent spillway water of Wright Patman
Lake in Texarkana, Texas, after the car she was in left the road and entered the water and submerged on April 4, 2021. Mendoza exited the car, but was submerged multiple times as the current carried her toward open floodgates downstream. Dustin Wayne Roach, a 35-year-old construction worker of Ashdown, Arkansas, was fishing at the scene and dived in the water after seeing the woman bobbing in the water. He swam about 50 feet to her, grasped her and swam her toward the bank of the lake. Reaching a point about 40 feet from the bank, Roach struggled to catch his breath and spit up water that he had ingested. Others on the bank threw them a fishing line, which he secured around his torso. Still holding to Mendoza, he swam the rest of the distance to the bank while those on land pulled them to safety.

We all saw the video as it was being shared across the social media platforms, and we had a chance to sit down with Dustin and get to know him a little better. It is awesome to see him win this recognition from the Carnegie Hero Fund Foundation for his selflessness. Such a humble, young man… on that day nothing like this ever even crossed his mind, just seeing that girl alive, is nature kicked in.

Press Release:

In its third announcement of 2022, the Carnegie Hero Fund is proud to recognize 17 civilians who risked their lives to save others, including eight police officers who went above and beyond the line of duty to save others, a father who died attempting to rescue his drowning son, and a 70-year-old neighbor who entered a mobile home after a gas explosion to guide its occupant to safety.

Each of these 17 individuals will receive the Carnegie Medal, North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism.

Among those saved by this quarter’s awardees were four children, who, in three separate acts, struggled in cold and rough water, a pilot of a single-engine plane that crash-landed on a railroad track moments before a train approached, and a 21-year-old driver who was trapped in her car after a multi-car vehicle accident on a Nebraska highway.

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who enter extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. With this announcement, the Carnegie Medal has been awarded to 10,324 individuals since the inception of the Pittsburgh-based Fund in 1904.

Each of the recipients or their survivors will receive a financial grant. Throughout the 118 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, more than $44 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

The awardees for September are:
Alec Daviau, Kirkland Lake, Ontario
Kenneth S. Andreen, Pittsburgh
Raphael Jafri, New York City
Frank P. Axiotes, Elkhorn, Nebraska
Jameson Lobb, New York City
Suzanne Fortin, Wotton, Quebec
Saul Ortiz Marquez*, Justin, Texas
Scott Morin, Worcester, Massachusetts
Christopher Bryant Aboyte, Los Angeles
Enmanuel Familia*, Worcester, Massachusetts
Damien Castro, Los Angeles
Amy M. Waterman, Brimfield, Massachusetts
Robert Michael Sherock, Los Angeles
Angela C. Consiglio, Worcester, Massachusetts
Allen Noble Corson, Jr., Taftville, Connecticut
Steven Barnett, Worcester, Massachusetts
Dustin Wayne Roach, Ashdown, Arkansas
(*deceased)

Alec Daviau
A 39-year-old university student entered the 42-degree Blanche River multiple times to rescue a 7-year-old girl who was being carried downstream. On May 2, 2021, Emilia I. Fontana fell from a boulder into the swift-moving river near Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Alec Daviau of Kirkland Lake saw Emilia being carried downstream and ran along the bank to catch up to her. At one point, he entered the river, but the frigid temperature took his breath away and he was forced to exit. As she was carried toward a man-made dam, Daviau continued to run along the river following her. She submerged and Daviau lost sight of her. He climbed a hill to get a better vantage point and after spotting something below the water’s surface, he slid down the bank and reentered the river, swimming about 25 feet from the bank. Searching with his hands under the surface of the water, he felt Emilia’s hair and pulled her to the surface. Bringing her to the bank, he started resuscitation. Others who arrived at the bank took over the first aid and Emilia was revived. She was hospitalized overnight for hypothermia. Daviau was cold after the rescue and had difficulty breathing and walking. He also sustained lacerations and contusions to his legs. Both Emilia and Daviau recovered.

Jameson Lobb and Raphael Jafri
Working out on a New York pier over the East River, Jameson Lobb and Raphael Jafri responded to
shouts of help from a bystander who noticed a 54-year-old man floating motionless in the river on Oct. 4, 2021. Lobb, a 24-year-old banking analyst of New York, jumped into the river fully clothed and swam to the man as he submerged. Reaching him, Lobb submerged, grasped him and brought him to the surface of the water. By then, Jafri, 24, a machine learning support engineer also of New York, arrived and Lobb positioned the man on Jafri’s chest. With Jafri grasping his upper body and Lobb holding to his legs they swam him at least 100 feet to a pier. While Jafri held the man to the pier’s barnacle-covered fender, Lobb climbed onto a beam and together they used a rope and a life ring to secure the man’s head above the surface of the water as he regained consciousness. Bystanders had gathered on the pier and helped Lobb and Jafri lift the man onto the pier. Lobb climbed onto the pier and, nearly exhausted, Jafri remained in the river until a police boat arrived. Lobb and Jafri suffered cuts on their arms and went to the hospital to get checked out.

Saul Ortiz Marquez, deceased
A 28-year-old laborer died June 13, 2020, while saving his 8-year-old son from drowning in the Trinity River off of Fort Worth, Texas. Saul Ortiz Marquez of Justin, Texas, immediately entered the river after his son slipped and fell into the tributary stream and was carried into the river. Marquez entered the water, grasped the boy, and attempted to return to the bank with him. A woman entered the river and took the boy from Marquez and brought him to safety. Marquez submerged and did not resurface. Divers recovered his body about an hour later; he had drowned.

Christopher Bryant Aboyte, Damien Castro,
and Robert Michael Sherock
Three Los Angeles police officers responded to a Jan. 9 accident in which a plane had crash-landed at an intersection of a railroad track and a four-lane road in Pacoima, California. The plane straddled the single train track and local emergency officials responded. Officer Christopher Bryant Aboyte, 28, was assigned to monitor the condition of the plane’s pilot, Mark Jenkins, 71, while officers Damien Castro, 28, and Robert Michael Sherock, 34, directed traffic and controlled the scene. Suddenly, a crossing gate descended and a five-car, 600-ton commuter train traveling at least 72 m.p.h. approached the crossing. Castro ran to the cockpit and tried in vain to open the mangled cockpit door, but it wouldn’t budge. Sherock then ran over, joining Aboyte and Castro. They reached into the plane and, together, hoisted Jenkins over the dashboard and out through the windshield area. Placing him on the pavement, they dragged Jenkins away from the plane. Four seconds after his removal, the train struck the plane. The officers were not injured.

Allen Noble Corson, Jr.
A 26-year-old slot machine attendant from Taftville, Connecticut, was dining July 3, 2019, with his
parents and fiancée at a Worcester, Massachusetts, restaurant, when he heard screaming from
elsewhere inside the facility. Allen Noble Corson, Jr., ran in the direction of the noise where he saw a man attacking 31-year-old Amanda Dabrowski. Corson confronted the assailant, wrestling and pinning him to the floor. As they struggled, the assailant, who was wielding a knife in each hand, stabbed Corson in his left side. Dabrowski had slipped from the assailant’s grasp and was sitting against a wall with fatal stab wounds. Two other men joined Corson in securing the assailant until police arrived and arrested him. Dabrowski died of her wounds. Corson received sutures and recovered.

Dustin Wayne Roach
Twenty-nine-year-old Lucia M. Mendoza struggled in the turbulent spillway water of Wright Patman
Lake in Texarkana, Texas, after the car she was in left the road and entered the water and submerged on April 4, 2021. Mendoza exited the car, but was submerged multiple times as the current carried her toward open floodgates downstream. Dustin Wayne Roach, a 35-year-old construction worker of Ashdown, Arkansas, was fishing at the scene and dived in the water after seeing the woman bobbing in the water. He swam about 50 feet to her, grasped her and swam her toward the bank of the lake. Reaching a point about 40 feet from the bank, Roach struggled to catch his breath and spit up water that he had ingested. Others on the bank threw them a fishing line, which he secured around his torso. Still holding to Mendoza, he swam the rest of the distance to the bank while those on land pulled them to safety.

Kenneth S. Andreen
A 45-year-old man remained in his Pittsburgh home after flames broke out on the second story on Feb. 24. Local delivery driver, 48-year-old Kenneth S. Andreen was driving nearby when he saw smoke and flames issuing from the top story of the home. He opened the front door and called out for anyone inside the structure. Carsten B. Molt responded from the first-floor living room. Despite heavy smoke inside the home, Andreen went to Molt, placed him over his shoulder and left the house as conditions inside the house deteriorated. Molt sustained smoke inhalation and was treated at a hospital. Andreen also inhaled smoke, but he recovered later that day.

Frank P. Axiotes
A Sept. 25, 2020, multi-vehicle highway accident in Lincoln, Nebraska, left Madison R. Daly, 21, in the driver’s seat of a sport utility vehicle that was pinned between a tractor trailer, concrete barrier, and a third vehicle. Flames broke out immediately. Pinned under the crumpled dashboard and steering wheel, Daly could not free herself. Frank P. Axiotes, a 49-year-old salesman from Elkhorn, Nebraska, was driving nearby and stopped at the scene. He ran across the highway to the barrier and reached through the driver’s window to pull Daly out, but he couldn’t remove her. He jumped onto the vehicle’s hood and punched the windshield attempting to gain access to Daly. Another man arrived and Axiotes returned to the driver’s window where they, together, pulled Daly out of the car. Shortly, Daly’s vehicle was engulfed in flames. Although Daly suffered accident-related injuries, she was not burned. Axiotes sustained lacerations to his hand and was treated at the scene; he recovered.

Suzanne Fortin
A March 6, 2021, propane-related explosion left 75-year-old David M. Munce dazed and motionless at the stove inside his Duncan, British Columbia, mobile home. Neighbor Suzanne Fortin, 70, heard the explosion and saw smoke issuing from Munce’s home. Fortin entered the mobile home, where flames had broken out behind the stove and along the rear wall. Fortin went to Munce and guided him outside to safety. The fire eventually engulfed the mobile home. Munce was hospitalized for more than a month and underwent grafting surgery on his hands. Fortin was uninjured.

Scott Morin; Enmanuel Familia, deceased;
Amy M. Waterman; Angela C. Consiglio;
and Steven Barnett
Five Massachusetts police officers will receive the Carnegie Medal after helping three teens struggling to stay afloat in Green Hill Pond in Worcester, Massachusetts, on June 4, 2021. Worcester officer Scott Morin, 26, was the first to arrive at the scene and entered the deep, 52-degree water of the pond fully clothed. He swam about 35 feet and grasped a 15-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl each by the hand and towed them to wadable water near the bank. Morin was nearly exhausted after the rescue and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He was later released and recovered. Officer Enmanuel Familia, 38, also with Worcester police, also responded to the pond, where others alerted him that a 14-year-old boy remained in the pond and had submerged. Fully clothed, Familia entered the pond and swam about 60 feet toward the teen’s last known location, but he shortly struggled in the water and submerged. By then state trooper Amy M. Waterman, 47, and Worcester officers Angela C. Consiglio, 51, and Steven Barnett, 56, had arrived and entered the pond to search for the teen, then swam to where Familia was last seen. Though all three officers dived multiple times to locate Familia, they could not find him. Fire officials arrived and ordered all of the officers out of the water. Waterman and Consiglio, nearly exhausted, exited the water, and were taken by ambulance to the hospital. They were later released and recovered. Barnett remained in the water where Familia was last seen to mark the position for fire department divers. He too was taken to the hospital by ambulance where he was treated and released.
Familia and the 14-year-old boy were recovered by divers later that day; they had drowned.

To nominate someone for the Carnegie Medal, complete a nomination form online or write to the
Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, 436 Seventh Ave., Suite 1101, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. More information on the Carnegie Medal and the history of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission can be found at carnegiehero.org. Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/carnegiehero.

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After more than 30 years with radio and TV stations, I decided to do my own thing by blogging. It affords me the ability to stay super involved in the community, but still, have plenty of time with my 3 new granddaughters and other local projects.

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