Jason Allen Williams’ heroism is now official. The truck driver from Florida was recently honored with a Carnegie Medal from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission after rescuing a man from a burning truck in 2016.
A Dec. 19 news release listed Williams as one of 20 recipients of the prestigious Carnegie Medal for outstanding civilian heroism. Seven of the individuals were honored posthumously.
The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the United States and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The heroes announced today bring to 77 the number of awards made to date in 2017 and to 9,991 the total number since the Pittsburgh-based fund started in 1904. Each of the awardees or their survivors will receive a financial grant. Throughout the 113 years since the fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $39.6 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance.
Williams, 32, of Orange City, Fla., rescued 61-year-old Michael Bridges from a burning dump truck in August 2016 on state Road 429 in Apopka, Fla.
As detailed in a Land Line story from 2016, Bridges was traveling north on 429 when his dump truck blew a tire. According to the report from the Florida Highway Patrol, Bridges then lost control of the vehicle and the dump truck swerved through the center grass median and into the southbound lanes before clipping a 2014 Honda. The dump truck continued off onto the west shoulder, overturned and then caught fire.
Williams, who had been traveling south, witnessed the crash.
“Mr. Williams jumped out of his truck, crossed all the lanes of traffic by himself and went down to try and help the victim,” Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes told Land Line the day after the accident. “He didn’t know if the victim was alive or not.”
Williams told Land Line he would hope someone would help him in a similar situation.
“Every day, I see accidents out there on the highway. I was thinking that if it were me, I’d want someone to come over and help me out. I wouldn’t want to burn alive in my truck.”
Despite flames burning at the front end and underside of the vehicle, Williams climbed atop the vehicle and opened the passenger door. He extended his head and arms inside, pulled on Bridges’ arms but slipped and fell from the truck. He then climbed back to the top of the truck and reached inside to pull Bridges out of the vehicle. Both men fell from the vehicle to the ground as flames grew to engulf the cab. Bridges required hospital treatment for his injuries, which included severe burns. Williams suffered minor burns.
“Had Mr. Williams not gone inside that truck, Mr. Bridges couldn’t have gotten out and he would have burned alive,” Montes said. “This guy is truly a hero.”
The Florida Highway Patrol nominated Williams for the Carnegie Medal.
In January, Williams and Bridges reunited at a news conference in Apopka.
Information about the complete list of Carnegie Heroes can be found here.
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