Earlier this week, Corporal Eric Keys of our Corrections Division was awarded a Carnegie Medal for his act of extraordinary heroism in 2019, when he rescued a 37-year-old woman from a vehicle that was on fire.

The mission of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission is “to recognize and support those who perform acts of heroism in civilian life in the United States and Canada.”We live in a heroic age,”

Andrew Carnegie wrote in the opening lines of the Commission’s founding Deed of Trust in 1904. “Not seldom are we thrilled by deeds of heroism where men or women are injured or lose their lives in attempting to preserve or rescue their fellows.”

A 37-year-old woman was unconscious and trapped inside her burning SUV after it left a highway and crashed into a tree on March 13, 2019, in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

A 35-year-old sheriff’s deputy of La Plata, Maryland, Eric C. Keys, was riding in a van nearby and saw the burning car. The fire spread to the grass around the vehicle. Running to the car, he gave a bystander a fire extinguisher, instructing them to discharge it toward his feet.

As the fire intensified and ignited nearby trees, Keys used his metal baton to break the driver’s window, then reached through the opening to unlock and open the door. Despite thick smoke, Keys kneeled on the driver’s seat and grasped the woman by the back of her pants, and pulled her toward him. He bear-hugged her and dragged her from the vehicle to safety. She was not burned.

The hair on Keys’ legs was singed and he was treated at an emergency room for smoke inhalation; he recovered.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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