Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — An off-duty police officer who rescued a 5-year-old girl from a rabid coyote at a New York playground is one of 19 people being honored with Carnegie Medals for heroism.

The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced the award winners on Monday.

Arcangelo Liberatore was at the playground in Thornwood, New York, in April 2018 when he heard screams and saw the animal attacking Natalia Petrellese.

Liberatore rushed over after the girl’s mother unsuccessfully tried to fight off the animal. He got the animal to release its grip on Natalia and pinned it to the ground, while the little girl’s mother rushed her a safe distance away. Liberatore struggled to restrain the animal as it attempted to bite him until police officers arrived several minutes later and fatally shot the animal. Natalia had stitches in her arm, and Liberatore sustained scratches. Both were treated for rabies and recovered.

The Hero Fund commission was founded and endowed by steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It has awarded over $40 million to more than 10,000 heroes or their families since 1904.

Other winners announced Monday include:

Steve Wahler, 47, of Owensboro, Kentucky, and Bradley Eugene Murphy, 21, of Elberta, Alabama, both drowned after entering the water to attempt to save a 12-year-old boy caught in a Gulf of Mexico rip current in Gulf Shores, Alabama in October 2017. Malik Andre Williams, 25, of Galesburg, Illinois, drowned trying to rescue his 6-year-old son, and Van U. Thang, of East Moline, Illinois, managed to save the boy who fell into the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois, in June 2017. Timonthy Hunley, 43, of Wilmington, North Carolina, rescued a 40-year-old woman from the cab of a semitrailer that crashed while towing a trailer loaded with a motor home, another vehicle and fuel containers into woods along a highway in Waltersboro, South Carolina, in March 2018. Kristian Harrison, 47, of Dayton, Kentucky, rescued a neighbor from his burning home in November 2017. Nicholas Anderson, 45, of San Francisco, rescued two women and three children from a pickup that caught fire after colliding with an SUV in Willits, California, in May 2017. Kali Allen, 38, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, attempted to rescue a man who had fallen through ice in a deep pond in Catoosa, Oklahoma, in January 2018, before Allen had to be rescued by responding firefighters. Peter Di Pinto, Sr., 64, of Brookhaven, New York, saved a woman after her van crashed and came to rest on railroad tracks seconds before a freight train then struck her vehicle in October 2017. David Connelly, 30, of Providence Forge, Virginia, saved a couple from drowning after their car crashed into the Little River in Doswell, Virginia, in December 2016. Charles Franklin Hoop, 40, of Wendell, Idaho, rescued a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge above the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho, in December 2017. Omar Lee, 40, of Louisville, Kentucky, and James Wyatt, 42, of Clarksville, Indiana, rescued a man whose semi-truck crashed and burned on a Louisville interstate in November 2017. Michael James Jordan, 47, and his son, Wyatt, 24, both of Sterling, Connecticut, saved a woman from her crashed and burning pickup truck in Killingly, Connecticut, in November 2017. Willowick, Ohio, Police officers Christopher Olup, 34, and Robert Prochazka, 49, saved a man with limited mobility after his home caught fire in Willowick in April 2016. Christopher Schafer, 42, of Hayti, South Dakota, saved a farmer after his semi-tractor hauling more than 90,000 pounds of grain struck a freight train and caught fire in Blunt, South Dakota, in August 2017.

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