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Two Tucson sheriffs receive Carnegie Medal for heroism

Pima County deputies Adrian Gallo (left) and Joe L. Serrano are shown. (Carnegie Heroes Photos)

PHOENIX — Two Tucson sheriffs were honored for their courage Tuesday with the Carnegie Medal for extraordinary civilian heroism.

Pima County deputies Adrian Gallo, 34, and Joe L. Serrano, 36, were each recognized by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, which awarded 25 medals to those who risked their lives to an extraordinary degree in order to save others.

Gallo and Serrano each helped rescue Lyndelle H. Watkins, 69, from a burning pickup truck in Tuscon on May 16, 2015. Wilkins crashed head on with another truck and remained unconscious as the vehicle began to go up in flames.

Gallo was on duty at the time and was first on the scene. Entering the space between the burning vehicles, he found Watkins with her legs trapped underneath the wreckage. Gallo cut her seat belt and tried to free Watkins, but could not do it alone.

That’s about when Serrano responded to the crash site. After failing to pry the driver’s-side door open, Serrano changed the angle of his squad car toward the burning vehicles, and using a winch line attached to the door, forced it open. Both Serrano and Gallo then reached through the doorway and pulled Wilkins from the flames.

Wilkins was hospitalized after her rescue, but died shortly after. Gallo received treatment for smoke exposure and minor burns. He made a full recovery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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