An auto salesman from the Omaha suburb of Elkhorn was honored Monday as one of 17 recipients nationally of the Carnegie Medal for heroism, North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism.
Frank Axiotes was presented with the medal by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, who said his “initiative and courageous action” saved 2 people in a fiery crash on Interstate 80 in Lincoln on Sept 25, 2020.
Ricketts called Axiotes “a true Nebraska hero (whose) bravery is a fantastic example of the spirit of Nebraskans,” – adding that “stepping up to help a neighbor in need is something Nebraskans do every day.”
The accident occurred when a semi slammed into an SUV, pinning it against a concrete barrier and starting a fire. Axiotes saw it, immediately pulled over, and ran to the crash site.
He pulled a 9-year-old boy from the back seat of the burning SUV and, along with another bystander, broke out the vehicle’s front window and pulled out the driver, the boy’s 21-year sister, just before explosions began.
The sister, Maddie Daly, described Axiotes as a “super hero” – a description he rejected at Monday’s ceremony, saying he was “just somebody who was put in the right place and the right time.”
The Nebraska State Patrol honored Axiotes last September with its citizen Public Service Award for his heroism. Supt Colonel John Bolduc says what Axiotes did “serve as an inspiration for us all. We can all make a difference for others if we’re willing to act when others need help, just like Frank did.”
Over 10,000 individuals have received a Carnegie Medal since its inception in 1904. The award is given to civilians who risk extreme danger in an attempt to give life-saving assistance.