This has been a week to recognize people for their remarkable and selfless achievements.
On our local scene Monday night, the Mauch Chunk Trust Company honored four outstanding volunteers as Community Heroes. Connie Reinhart of Palmerton, Peter L. Kern of Brodheadsville, Larry Wittig of Andreas and Rose Marie Mikulski of Lansford joined a distinguished list of 81 people who have been honored since the MCT started the Heroes program in 2000.
Last night in Lehighton, borough police officer Bob DeFuso and part-time officer Ryan Kennedy were recognized for their heroic efforts at last Friday's drowning scene near the Lehighton-Weissport trestle. Both officers were responsible for rescuing two persons from the water, then administering CPR. Unfortunately, two persons died in the tragedy.
After describing how the two officers rescued the victims from the water, Police Chief Neal Ebbert said "it's part of our job and part of our duty."
Still, both officers performed nobly and will be receiving a letter of commendation.
Also last night in Pittsburgh, The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission recognized 23 people who performed heroic acts. Two of the men, Kirk Haldeman, 51, of Ligonier, and Michael Ledgard, 52, of Greensburg, are credited with saving the lives of numerous patrons in a Ligonier bar and diners in an adjoining room during a shooting last July.
The incident began when an out-of-town laborer shot and killed one patron over an argument over what to watch on the bar television, Haldeman ran across the room and pushed the semi-automatic assault rifle away from the gunman. Ledgard, another customer, then joined Haldeman in subduing the suspect who is now awaiting trial on murder charges in Westmoreland County.
Christine Marty, 23, of Armstrong County was also honored with a Carnegie medal for her heroism during the torrential rains that caused severe flooding and killed four people in Pittsburgh last August. When a car driven by 69-year-old Roumianka Connolly became disabled on a flooded road, Marty swam to Connolly and helped her hold onto the vehicle until a rescue boat arrived and carried them both to safety.
Five of those honored last night in Pittsburgh paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives to help a fellow human being during rescue attempts. After being exposed to so much negativity in the news, it is actions like this that help restore our faith in humanity.
By Jim Zbick