‘I don’t see myself as a hero’: Nebraska man receives highest civilian honor

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – An Elkhorn man was awarded the Carnegie Medal by Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday for his help in pulling siblings out of a burning vehicle.

On Sept. 25, 2020, Frank Axiotes saw a three-vehicle crash on Interstate 80 near the 27th Street exit.

Axiotes quickly stepped into action and pulled two siblings out of their crushed Chevrolet Trailblazer moments before it was engulfed in flames.

“I couldn’t walk away from that knowing what would’ve happened,” Axiotes said.

His wife Shelley remembers seeing the siblings’ faces pressed up against the driver’s side window.

Her husband was able to pull 9-year-old Lucas Daly out quickly but had to shatter the windshield to rescue 21-year-old Maddie Daly.

“I’m trying to figure out what landmarks to tell them when I call 911,” Shelley said. “And Frank is already running across the interstate. There wasn’t even a moment to talk to him, he just jumped out the door and started running.”

The Carnegie Medal is North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism, but Axiotes doesn’t see himself as a hero.

“I was just a guy in the right place at the right time,” he said.

Axiotes says people should be more willing to jump in and help others in distress before paramedics arrive.

“If I wasn’t there, by the time the paramedics got there, everything was engulfed,” Axiotes said. “It’s just one of those things where you don’t wait for help to arrive, be the person on-site to help.”

The Carnegie Medal isn’t the only award Axiotes has been given.

Axiotes received the Nebraska State Patrol’s Public Service Award in 2021, and the American red Cross’ Good Samaritan Award in 2022.

While the siblings couldn’t attend the award ceremony Monday, they sent a message to Axiotes thanking him for being their superhero.

SEE ALSO: NSP present the Citizen Public Service Award to local citizen

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