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Oklahoma teen who helped Kansas Turnpike victim is among 19 Carnegie Heroes

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Sep. 20, 2012, at 4:55 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, at 6:39 a.m.

An Oklahoma teenager who was seriously injured when she stopped to help a woman she saw lying on the Kansas Turnpike near Wichita last year was one of 19 people honored Thursday with Carnegie medals for heroism.

Summer White of Edmond was hurt as she tried to pull the woman to safety south of Mulvane late on the night of June 12, 2011. The 32-year-old woman from Texas was a passenger in a car being driven by her 15-year-old son that drifted off the turnpike and struck a vehicle parked on the side of the road, authorities have said. A black pickup then hit the Impala, partially ejecting the woman White saw.

White, 17 at the time, was on her way back home with two other teenage groomers after working at a horse show at the Kansas Coliseum when they drove up on the accident scene at about 10:30 p.m..

"She was laying almost exactly in the middle of the road," White said in an interview with The Eagle a day after the accident. "I knew if she didn’t get out of the way, she was going to get run over.

"All I could think of was that there were cars coming, and I had to get her out of the road,” she said. “I didn’t want her to get hit. I grabbed onto her, and I was trying to pull her out of the way. . . . I don’t remember anything after I got hit by the car."

A U-Haul truck hit the Impala, knocking it into White and the woman she was trying to help. The Texas woman died later at a Wichita hospital.

White suffered a broken clavicle, a broken scapula, a broken wrist and minor spinal injuries. A 17-year-old groomer was also injured in the incident but survived.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, based in Pittsburgh, says its mission is to recognize people who perform heroic acts in civilian life and to provide financial help to those disabled, or to the dependents of those killed, by their heroism. Steel baron Andrew Carnegie was inspired to start the fund after hearing rescue stories from a mine disaster that killed 181 people.

Carnegie medalists or their heirs receive financial grants approved by the commission. More than $34.6 million has been awarded to 9,558 honorees since the fund’s inception in 1904. New recipients are announced four times a year.

Other Carnegie medal winners announced Thursday are from Pennsylvania, Alabama, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin and Canada. They were honored for heroic acts including saving a man stricken with a medical condition in an out-of-control vehicle in Georgia and a Philadelphia teenager who drowned trying to save a friend in the tidal currents of the Delaware River.

Two of the people honored Thursday by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission died in rescue attempts.

Contributing: Associated Press

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