By Pat Jenkins
Two Mount Rainier National Park rangers who died this year in the line of duty were honored posthumuously Wednesday by a local Red Cross chapter during its annual Heroes awards program in Tacoma.
Margaret Anderson, who was killed by a gunman on New Year’s Day, and Nick Hall, who fell to his death while helping rescue climbers on the mountain in June, have been named recipients of the Marvin Klegman Memorial Award for their heroism and putting themselves in harm’s way to help others.
The award is named for an 11-year-old Tacoma schoolboy who died from injuries he suffered from falling bricks at his elementary school during an earthquake in 1949. He had used his body to shield another student from the debris.
In addition to Anderson and Hall, eight other people and a dog were honored during the Heroes ceremony Wednesday morning during a breakfast at Hotel Murano Bicentennial Pavilion.
The event “is an opportunity to recognize these very special individuals who personify the mission of the Red Cross and make Pierce County safe and strong,” said Tracy Peacock,executive of the Mount Rainier Chapter of Red Cross. “This year’s heroes acted quickly and courageously to save a life, prevent tragedy or give of themselves for the greater good, regardless of personal risks.”
Anderson, 34, who lived in Eatonville and had two children, was shot to death by a King County man who drove through a mandatory vehicle tire chains checkpoint at the park Jan. 1. She tried to stop him with a roadblock on the road to Paradise. After he shot Anderson, he fled on foot into the surrounding mountainous terrain and was later found dead from exposure to the winter elements.
Hall, 33, was among rescuers who were evacuating four climbers June 21 from the mountain after a fall by the group left two of them in a crevasse and three of them injured. After reaching them and helping with preparations for them to be airlifted from the scene of their mishap, Hall himself slipped and fell about 2,500 feet to his death.
The other Red Cross Heroes honorees who were singled out Wednesday for their deeds include:
• Jeff Wyrwitzke, Bill Dixon, and David Elmer, Tacoma First Responders. They will be honored with the Medical Rescue Award for giving life-saving medical assistance and emotional support to the victims of the Reno Air Show crash. While the tragedy in Nevada took many lives, the casualties were lessened by the assistance of the three men.
• Matthew Fleming, a Tacoma firefighter, will be honored with the Water Rescue Award for saving a stranded boater who was close to drowning in Commencement Bay after his boat capsized. The boater was rescued by Fleming, who took him to shore where he received medical help.
• Army Staff Sgt. Landon Jensen will be honored with the Military Hero Award for pulling a woman out of a burning car and taking her to safety after she crashed on a busy street in Tacoma. He also went to the aid of other victims of the crash and made sure everyone was safe.
• Air Force Senior Airman Andrew Moser and Airman First Class Micah Myers will be honored with the Good Samaritan Award for responding to a pedestrian who fell to the ground after suffering a seizure. The two men rushed to his side, provided first aid and reassured him until paramedics arrived.
• Samantha Kelley, 8, will be honored with the Isaac Mattich Star of Courage Award for quickly responding and performing abdominal thrusts on her friend, who was choking on a tangerine during a play date. With Samantha’s help, her friend coughed up the piece of fruit and was able to breathe again.
• Madison, a 6-year-old American Dingo, will be awarded the Animal Rescue Award for protecting her owner, Michaela Lee, from a pack of raccoons that attacked Lee as she was going home from a jog around Steilacoom Park in Lakewood.