David Brown was retrieving an item from his vehicle when he heard screaming.
At a Brainerd resort in May of 2019, Brown initially thought the sounds were coming from cold swimmers in the Gull River of East Gull Lake. When a lady jumping up and down and yelling for help grabbed his attention, he knew the situation was something more.
The sight of two men struggling in the water made Brown jump in after them. While he was nervous at first, startled by the 57 degree temperature of the water, he persisted.
“I knew I needed to help them,” Brown said. “I went in after the first man and got him back to shore, then went back in to get the next man.”
The two men, ages 34 and 35, had gone into the water to rescue another friend and were struggling to swim. Their friend was rescued by another person.
The Carnegie Hero Fund called Brown two years after the incident. As empirical evidence must be provided for a recipient to receive the award, the committee conducts extensive investigations into each case before choosing recipients.
The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others, according to its website, carnegiehero.org.
Those qualifying for the Carnegie Medal must meet the Carnegie Hero Fund’s specific criteria. The recipient is required to leave a place of safety or the path of safety and risk his or her own life to an extraordinary extent in order to save or attempt to save another person in the United States or Canada.
Pittsburgh steelmaker Andrew Carnegie realized the importance of recognizing heroes decades before the disaster that served as the impetus for the creation of the Hero Fund, the website said.
The first hero he privately recognized was teen William Hunter, who died while attempting to rescue a boy in Scotland, but other men and women were also private benefactors of Carnegie’s drive to bring to light the good deeds.
In 1904, a coal mine disaster in the suburbs of Pittsburgh pushed Carnegie to formalize heroic recognition with the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.
In 2018, the Carnegie Fund Hero Commission awarded its 10,000th medal.
Brown, 41, is a regional manager for Reliakor Services. He is also the father of three sons and lives in Shakopee.
“I was like, that’s cool, I get a medal,” Brown said, “and said thanks.”
Brown was one of three Minnesotans to receive the award this year.