PITTSBURGH — The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission on Sept. 22 announced 17 people have been named Carnegie heroes for entering into mortal danger to rescue others.

Fusako Petrus

They each will receive the Carnegie Medal – the highest honor for civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada – for risking their lives while trying to save others from life-threatening perils.

Among those cited was Fusako M. Petrus, 86, a retired clerk from North Highlands, Sacramento County. She walked with friends six days a week for nearly 50 years, except when it rained. She was walking with her 61-year-old friend at dawn on April 26, 2017, on a North Highlands school track when an 18-year-old man approached the friend, struck her in the face repeatedly, and, after they went to the ground, held her down, groped her, and attempted to rape her.

As the woman fended off the man, Petrus approached them, brandishing a large stick. Known throughout her life as a dedicated and loyal friend, Petrus struck the assailant and told him to leave her friend alone. The assailant shifted his attention to Petrus, beating her to death, while the 61-year-old woman fled the scene to get help. The man was later arrested and is awaiting trial.

Petrus becomes the oldest person ever to be awarded the Carnegie Medal. At the time of her death she was 19 days older than the previous oldest medal recipient, also 86 years old, who was awarded in 2003.

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. With this third announcement of 2020 recipients, a total of 10,185 Carnegie Medals have been awarded since the Pittsburgh-based fund’s inception in 1904.

Commission Chair Mark Laskow said each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 116 years since the fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, more than $42 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

To nominate someone for the Carnegie Medal, complete a nomination form online, write the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission at 436 Seventh Ave., Suite 1101, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, or call 1-800-447-8900. More information on the Carnegie Medal and the history of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission can be found at carnegiehero.org.

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