Tennessee pastor, son who helped save 3 boys from drowning in icy river among Carnegie Heroes.



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PITTSBURGH — A Tennessee pastor and his son are among 20 people being honored with medals and cash from the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Heroes Fund Commission.

The Rev. Neil Crass and his son, Hunter O'Neil Crass, helped when three 14-year-old boys broke through the ice covering the Emory River in Harriman, Tennessee, on Feb. 1, 2014.

The pastor and his son, also from Harriman, drove to the scene after learning of the mishap and used their three-person, 15-foot aluminum motor boat to reach the boys, who were clinging to a buoy. They took aboard a firefighter who had been breaking the ice to clear a path toward the boys. When they reached the boys, they hauled them into the boat and then surrendered their coats to them. The elder Crass was 43 at the time; his son was 19.

Three people being honored died during rescue attempts.

Jonathan Michael Davis, 29, of South Euclid, Ohio, died helping rescue a 9-year-old boy from drowning in a Lake Erie inlet in Cleveland, Ohio, in August 2013. Philip Scholz, 35, of Pleasanton, California, died when he was hit by a commuter train while pulling a man from the tracks in Santa Clara, California, in January 2014. The other man hit by the train survived. And Matthew Ray Hattaway, 25, of Bossier City, Louisiana, died trying to rescue a 14-year-old boy from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico off Fort Morgan, Alabama in June 2013.

The hero awards, which will be formally announced Tuesday, honor those who risk their lives for others.

The other 15 winners are from Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

The Carnegie Hero awards are named for Pittsburgh steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who was inspired by stories of heroism during a coal mine disaster that killed 181 people, including a miner and an engineer who died trying to rescue others.

The commission investigates stories of heroism and awards medals and cash several times a year. It has given away nearly $37 million to 9,757 awardees or their families since 1904.

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