Jefferson, SD man and family receive national honor for saving woman’s life in 2014

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A Jefferson, South Dakota man and his family have been honored nationally for saving the life of an Elk Point woman back in May of 2014. 

64-year-old Gary Olson and his family were awarded a medal from the Carnegie Hero Fund on Thursday. The award recognizes civilian heroism throughout the United States and Canada. It’s given to people “who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.”

The following is a excerpt from their award nomination:

“The Gary Olson Family rescued a woman from assault, North Sioux City, South Dakota, May 10, 2014. A 38-year-old woman who was being threatened with a gun by her husband in a parking lot walked onto the adjacent highway and waved her arms. Inside the sedan that immediately stopped were Gary Olson, 64, off-duty deputy sheriff transporter; his wife, Mary, 54, medical biller, who was driving; and their daughter, Shelby, 20, college student, who was in the back seat. The woman approached them and asked for help, telling them that the assailant was going to kill her. Shelby opened the back door on the driver’s side for the woman, who then entered the car as Gary stepped from the front passenger seat and began to circle the vehicle. The assailant drove up in a pickup truck, stopped beside the car, and pointed the gun at the woman. When Gary then approached him and showed his deputy’s badge, telling him to leave, the assailant pointed the gun at Gary. Gary told Mary to drive off, and she did so, leaving him with the assailant. The assailant then turned his truck around and pursued the three women. The high-speed chase went through a residential neighborhood before both vehicles entered an interstate highway and reached speeds estimated by police at 100 m.p.h. During the pursuit, the assailant shot at the car at least three times, with one bullet penetrating it and striking Shelby in the lower back. Police by then had joined in the pursuit, and Mary exited the interstate at the scene, having made a five-mile loop. After his truck was disabled by police, the assailant was found inside, dead of self-inflicted gunshot. Shelby was taken to the hospital for treatment of her wound, from which she recovered.”

84 awards were given out in 2015 and  9,821 have been given out since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission Chair Mark Laskow stated that each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 111 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $37.7 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

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