ARIZONA NEWS

Mesa hero who saved girls from burning apartment gets Carnegie Medal

Sep 25, 2023, 11:11 AM

Photos of the Carnegie Medal and Mesa's Jonathon Baez, was selected to receive the prestigious awar...

Mesa's Jonathon Baez was selected to receive a prestigious Carnegie Medal for saving two girls from an apartment fire. (Carnegie Hero Fund Commission and X/@MesaPD Photos)

(Carnegie Hero Fund Commission and X/@MesaPD Photos)

PHOENIX – A Mesa hero who saved two girls from a burning apartment last year was selected to receive a prestigious Carnegie Medal for his act of extraordinary bravery.

Jonathon Baez was one of 16 Carnegie Medal recipients announced Monday by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

The commission awards medals to individuals in the U.S. and Canada who risk death or serious physical injury while saving or trying to save the lives of others.

Baez will receive a financial grant from the Carnegie Hero Fund along with the medal, which is considered North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism.

What did Mesa man do to earn Carnegie Medal?

Baez jumped into action after seeing smoke coming from an apartment complex on Feb. 18, 2022, the Carnegie Hero Fund said in a press release.

The 25-year-old painter approached the building near Gilbert Road and U.S. 60 and learned that at least one child was inside a burning second-floor apartment.

When he couldn’t get in through the front door, he went around back to find a way in. He climbed onto a storage shed, removed a window frame from a second-floor bedroom and pulled himself partly through the opening.

He found a 2-year-old girl near the window, pulled her out and handed her to a nearby police officer.

Baez then learned that the girl’s 6-year-old sister was still inside. He pulled himself back up and climbed all the way inside.

He crawled through heavy smoke and found the second child in a closet. Baez led her to the window and handed her to another police officer before climbing out.

The Mesa Fire Department was able to control the blaze before it could spread to other units.

A month after the incident, city officials recognized Baez for his bravery.

How did the Carnegie Hero Fund start?

Industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie established the Carnegie Hero Fund in 1904 to recognize and support civilians who perform extraordinary acts of heroism.

More than 100,000 individuals have received the Carnegie Medal, and the fund has distributed nearly $45 million in grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance.

About 20% of medals have been awarded posthumously, including to Roberto Y. Longoria of Phoenix. Longoria, 42, died in 2021 trying to save an unconscious coworker in a hazardous material situation in Avondale. He was selected to receive a Carnegie Medal earlier this year.

Information about nominating somebody for the honor can be found on the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission website.

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Mesa hero who saved girls from burning apartment gets Carnegie Medal