SALT LAKE CITY — Three Utah men have been awarded what is considered to be the highest civilian honor for heroism for their actions during a 2019 natural gas explosion in Heber City.
Mark Pierce of Sandy, and Nathan Hammond and Eric Andrew Staten of Heber City were each bestowed the Carnegie Medal, given to "individuals from throughout the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others," according to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.
The men jumped into action after learning Lori R. Walker was trapped in the basement of a home following the explosion on Feb. 15, 2019.
Staten, a firefighter, was off-duty and out of his jurisdiction when he grabbed a decorative fire axe and searched the main floor of the home for Walker. He then went outside and met Hammond and Pierce before the group entered the basement.
The commission's description of the trio's heroics explains what happened next.
"Guided only by their cell phone flashlights they continued to search, as fiery debris fell into the basement and, at times, onto them. They found Walker, and working together, Staten and Hammond moved the debris enough for Pierce to drag Walker free. Staten placed Walker on his shoulder and carried her from the house, where the men then used a coat as a sling to drag Walker through the deep snow to arriving emergency responders, as the log home became fully engulfed with flames."
Walker, who suffered burns to 30% of her body, eventually got the chance to meet her rescuers in May 2019, three months after the incident.
"Part of her story is her will to be a mom and see her kids grow up and the things she’s going to be able to do as a result of the rescue," Staten said at the time.
The three Utah men are among 18 civilians to be awarded the honor this year.