MILTON — U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz on Thursday presented the Carnegie Medal to David Hammond of Gulf Breeze for saving a woman from her burning home last year.
“Today I have the remarkable privilege of recognizing one of our heroes here in Santa Rosa County, and it reminds us what bravery and what virtue lives in the hearts of our friends and neighbors,” Gaetz said during the presentation at the Santa Rosa County Commission meeting in Milton. “The story of Mr. Hammond truly is inspiring.”
Hammond, 64, received a call from his tenant Stephanie Wright on July 28, 2016, saying her home was on fire. Wright, who is wheelchair-bound, used one phone to call 911 and another to call Hammond.
Hammond could hear her telling the dispatcher that she couldn’t breathe, according to a press release from Gaetz’s office.
Hammond rushed to Wright’s burning home, threw himself against her glass sliding door and then crawled through her house to save her. He dragged her to a doorway and then collapsed.
“I go the other way when stuff is on fire. I think most people do,” Gaetz said. “Here in our community, with our amazing first responders, with our military members and veterans and then just with everyday citizens who care so deeply about someone else that they would risk themselves to go do something heroic.
“To bring that type of global recognition of heroism here to our community is certainly worthy of celebration.”
First responders arrived and saved Hammond and Wright after they suffered from smoke inhalation.
The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission presents the Carnegie Medal throughout the United States and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The fund was established in 1904 by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the fund’s 113 years, $39.4 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance.
Hammond is one of 18 people in the United States and Canada to receive the award for acts of heroism in 2016.
“I’m honored that he mentioned the first responders, because they were there and they’re the heroes,” Hammond said. “I was so impressed by the police officers there. … They probably saved my life, and I wish they would have gotten more recognition, but I’m honored and thank you very much.”
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