Two Mecklenburg County men who helped save a young girl from drowning in an icy pond two years ago were named Thursday as winners of the Carnegie Hero Medal.
They were among 19 winners named this week and 63 honored so far this year by the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, started in 1904 by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Leonard Terry and Mark McCullagh were honored for saving a 9-year-old girl who walked onto an ice-covered pond in the Ballantyne area on Jan. 12, 2010.
A thin layer of ice had formed on the pond after Charlotte experienced five consecutive days of temperatures at or below freezing. The young girl walked about 60 feet out onto the pond behind an apartment complex when the ice gave way. She fell into the frigid waters.
Terry, 25, had been watching from his apartment window and immediately ran out to the pond. Even though he could not swim, Terry walked onto the ice in an effort to save the girl, who was struggling in the water. As he neared the girl, he also fell through the ice into the water.
He submerged completely, and when he surfaced, the girl clung to his back as he trod water, submerging repeatedly, and calling for help, according to the report issued by the Carnegie Commission.
McCullagh, 46, heard the shouts at his home nearby. He too ran to the pond, took off his coat, and crawled along the ice.
He got close enough to Terry and the girl to pull the child from the water. Moments later, the ice broke again, sending McCullagh into the water.
McCullagh then supported Terry, who outweighed him, against the solid ice as they awaited help, according to the report.
Charlotte firefighters arrived shortly afterward and rescued the two men. Terry, McCullagh and the child were all treated for hypothermia.
The Carnegie Hero Medal carries a cash award of at least $5,000, although the commission did not disclose how much the two Charlotte-area men will receive.