FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2007
Contact: K.E. Schwab
Carnegie Fund recognizes SRU student for his 'civilian heroism'
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Richard Gigliotti, a Slippery Rock University junior elementary education major, is clearly a hero. And, soon he'll have a Carnegie Medal and $5,000 to prove it.
Gigliotti along with Frank Oesterling, a Butler resident, and Dennis Mark Baptiste, a Fenelton resident, are credited with saving Timothy Baptiste's life after his car burst into flames when struck from behind on Route 422 last June 21. The high-speed accident occurred in Summit Township. The three rescuers arrived in separate cars. "It happened so fast, I didn't have time to think about it. I had my cell phone in my hand when I saw the accident happen, and I called 911; then I ran from my truck to lend a hand," Gigliotti said.
For their exhibition of "extraordinary civilian heroism," Gigliotti, Oesterling and Dennis Baptiste were awarded the Carnegie Medal by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Award recipients receive a bronze medallion and $5,000.
The award citation praised the three men for their efforts, including reaching into the burning car to release the unconscious driver's seatbelt and braving flames and explosions to extract him through the driver's window. It wasn't until after Timothy Baptiste, 47, had been removed to safety that Mark Baptiste, who had happened upon the accident scene, realized it was his cousin he was helping rescue.
Even with the daring rescue, Timothy Baptiste received serious injuries, including burns and broken bones. He is still recovering. Rescuer Oesterling suffered minor burns.
Gigliotti, who works fulltime at Dingbats Restaurant and is coach of the Butler Senior High School lacrosse team, said he had not heard about the Carnegie awards before the accident. "After the accident, I did some research, but did not think my event measured up to the heroics listed on their Web site."
"I was really surprised to have been selected. I was also surprised by how quickly events unfolded at the crash. I did not have time to think about it, I just did it. After it was over, I thought, 'What the heck did I just do?'" Gigliotti said. Details for the award presentation are not yet set.
Gigliotti said he was looking forward to undertaking his student-teaching experience next year.
With the second round of award recipients named for the year, 2007's award total stands at 39. Since its inception in 1904, the fund has presented 9,092 awards to heroes across the U.S. and Canada. The fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and has presented $29.4 million in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.