PLAINS TWP. — They’ve pulled people from burning houses and cars stuck on highways. One spent three days searching for a lost dog in the dead of winter. Another, at just 11 years old, stopped a car after the driver suffered a fatal heart attack at the wheel.
These aren’t movie superheroes, but the everyday people of Northeastern Pennsylvania who were honored at the annual American Red Cross Heroes Celebration Thursday evening.
The event, honoring “everyday heroes,” was held at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It singled out firefighters, medical students and professionals who have gone “above and beyond” to help those in a time of need.
“It’s truly an honor by the Red Cross to be able to honor these people,” said Bill Goldsworthy, executive director of the Red Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“It’s not everyday when somebody will take that initiative. This is a true hero.”
One of the youngest honorees was Carson Crossley, the 11-year-old who saved a carload of children after the driver suffered a fatal heart attack last July 4 in Wyoming.
Crossley — who is legally blind in his left eye and suffers from bad vision in both eyes, plus hearing loss — was sitting in the front seat of Joseph Kolesar’s vehicle. After Kolesar’s car drove onto the sidewalk, sheared a pole at the corner of Ninth Street and Wyoming Avenue and continued to accelerate, Carson used his positioning to take control of the situation. He steered the vehicle into a residence, managing to avoid oncoming traffic on a busy four-lane road.
Carson and three young friends escaped with only minor injuries.
It was a story that gained the attention of the media, and thrust Carson into the spotlight. He received honors from the Wyoming Police Department, who nominated him for the Red Cross award.
“It feels good,” he said.
His mother, Deborah, said it was special to have her son recognized by the community.
“It’s a really big deal,” she said. “I just can’t show enough gratitude for that.”
Another pair of honorees, Peter Sidari and Amber Ankudovich, are two Wilkes University nursing students who were on their way to clinicals when they got caught in traffic due to an accident. When they learned that a cyclist had been struck by a vehicle on River Street at the Market Street Bridge, the duo rushed to help.
“There were a lot of people beyond us trying to help,” Ankudovich recalled. “We’re just lucky we have the skills and training from school to be able to act the way we did.”
Sidari said it was instinctive to get out and help in any way they could.
“We just hope we inspire other people,” he said. “You don’t have to be a medical professional to make a difference.”
The Times Leader Media Group was a media sponsor for the event.
“We’re proud to support the heroes,” said publisher Mike Murray.
Reach Brigid Edmunds at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds.