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2 Triad men to receive Carnegie Medal for rescuing woman from burning car

Jeff Johnson and Robert Lawson are honored for the rescue on U.S. 52 in July 2019. The medal is the highest civilian honor in the nation.

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Two Triad men are receiving the nation's highest honor for civilian heroism for their roles in saving a woman from a burning car on U.S. 52 in Winston-Salem last year.

Jeff Johnson and Robert Lawson will be awarded the Carnegie Medal for their heroism.

On July 11th 2019, Johnson said he was driving down U.S. 52 North through Winston-Salem with his two sons when he saw a fiery crash, a woman was trapped inside.

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"I started to react before I thought about what I was going to do," Johnson said.

 He pulled over and jumped the median to help. Johnson said the scene was chaotic like something out of a movie.

"You run through a wall of smoke and you see two hands just reaching through the plumes of smoke, this green kind of acrid chemical smoke, and it was the battery that was burning," Johnson said.

Johnson and another man-- Robert Lawson-- worked together to pull the 64-year-old woman to safety.

"No matter how scared I was or anybody else watching what was happening to this young lady, nothing I'm feeling, nothing anybody else was feeling could have been worse than what she was going through at that moment," Johnson said.

For Johnson, it was never a question of whether he should help.

"If I would've not done anything, for the rest of my life I would've looked in the mirror and I would've lost a piece of myself," Johnson said. "I would've lost a piece of my own humanity."

For their heroic efforts, Johnson and Lawson received the Citizen Heroes Team Award from the Red Cross in September. 

And last week they found out they were being awarded the Carnegie Medal

"To be recognized on a national level for an award by a foundation as prestigious as the Carnegie Foundation, I'm speechless," Johnson said.

Lawson said he will always cherish the honor.

"Help someone whenever you can, thank the man above," Lawson said.


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