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Carnegie Hero Looked Out for Needy

May 1, 1998

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Even as a child, Gregory Morter looked out for the underdog.

So it was no surprise that he gave his life trying to stop his aunt’s estranged boyfriend from abducting her. Morter, who was shot and killed Sept. 2, 1996, was among 17 people honored Thursday by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

Morter’s aunt was outside her Butler County apartment when her boyfriend grabbed her from behind and began to drag her through the backyard.

Morter, 24, a salesman who was living at the apartment, heard Kimberly Tack’s cries for help, ran out and pulled her away from the gunman. He calmed Ms. Tack and told Terry Schrecengost to leave her alone.

Schrecengost fired a bullet at Morter’s chest.

``My son was starting to turn and walk away with his aunt and Terry was losing control. Abusers have to stay in control, and his only control was that gun,″ said Debra Lample, Morter’s mother.

After killing Morter, Schrecengost kidnapped Ms. Tack, who later escaped. Schrecengost, 31, was convicted of second-degree murder and related charges and sentenced to life in prison.

Carnegie Hero winners or their survivors receive a bronze medal and $3,000. The fund, established by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, has honored 8,186 people since 1904.

Other honorees Thursday were:

_ Donnie S. Dirden, 28, of Murphysboro, Ill., rescued two women from a car that struck a concrete abutment in Carbondale, Ill., and caught fire on Sept. 1, 1996.

_ Joseph Gerard Brisson, 36, of Portsmouth, Va., a towboat captain who dove into the Elizabeth River to rescue a bridge-worker who had fallen 65 feet on Dec. 22, 1996.

_ Mark Henry Breazeal, 37, of Dublin, Calif., an assistant plumber, swam into the Pacific Ocean to save a 6-year-old being sucked out to sea by an undertow on June 13, 1997.

_ Ronald H. Larsen, 57, of Elko, Nev., a contractor, entered a neighbor’s burning house to rescue a 3-year-old child overcome by smoke on Jan. 17, 1997.

_ Jodi C. Roderick, 37, of Plymouth, Mass., and Marc M. Meunier, 40, of New Bedford, Mass., and R. Stephen Morrison, 47, of Plymouth, Mass., rescued a man and his wife whose car fell into a 10-foot ditch and filled with water when an earthen dam near Carver, Mass., collapsed on March 18, 1997.

_ Michael E. Miller, 43, of Ecorse, Mich., a steelworker, climbed into a burning apartment in Ecorse, Mich., to save a 2-year-old who fell unconscious before firefighters arrived on April 3, 1997.

_ Michael A. Sigalas, 32, of Chico, Calif., an editor and college instructor, pulled a woman from her burning pickup truck in Smartville, Calif., on June 13, 1997.

_ David E. Spencer, 34, of Point Pleasant, W.Va., crawled through smoke and flames to rescue his 9-month-old nephew on Jan. 28, 1997.

_ Durval Linhares, 31, of Toronto, and Joel Leal Filipe, 39, Robert Alister Porter, 34, and Joaquim Marques, 47, of Mississauga, Ontario, saved two men stuck in a protective cage in Etobicoke, Ontario, that was blown from a construction site by leaking natural gas on Sept. 11, 1995. Porter has since died.

_ James R.S. Brennan, 31, of Port Lorne, Nova Scotia, a carpenter, swam into frigid Ramsey Lake in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, to rescue one of two fishermen whose canoe capsized on May 26, 1996. The other man also was saved.

_ John C. Aaron, 27, of Van Buren, Ark., swam into the Arkansas River near Kibler, Ark., to rescue a friend whose truck had been swept off a submerged jetty on April 12, 1997. Both men died.

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