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Auto Parts Salesmen Among 19 Honored

December 22, 1987

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ An Ohio auto parts salesman who had plunged into a turbulent creek near his home several times over the years to make rescues was among 19 people honored by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission on Tuesday.

Harold Starkey drowned with his nephew in the creek last summer while trying to save two teen-agers.

″Other times, he got them out all right,″ Harold Starkey’s son, Lance Starkey, 25, said in a telephone interview from the family’s home in Uhrichsville, Ohio.

″They didn’t come any better, and I’m not just saying that because he was mine. He was always there to help anybody and everybody,″ his widow, Janice, 55, said.

Harold Starkey, 60, was returning to work after eating lunch at home last July 8 when he spotted Brandon W. McDaniel, 15, and Carl J. Parker Jr., 14, struggling at the base of a dam in Big Stillwater Creek.

Starkey stopped his car, emptied his pockets and swam toward the boys, relatives say.

His nephew, Richard Jon Starkey, 25, of New Philadelphia, Ohio, also jumped into the creek. He had been working nearby at another auto parts store.

The Starkeys were within 10 feet of McDaniel when they disappeared beneath the water. Parker drowned, but McDaniel was rescued by others.

Mrs. Starkey said that although she worried about her husband’s safety, she never asked him to stop jumping into the creek.

″That wouldn’t have made any difference to him,″ she said. ″If he saw somebody drowning, there’s nothing anybody could have done.″

Starkey saved a 10-year-old boy from the same creek six or seven years ago, and had made other rescues over the years, Mrs. Starkey said. Once he was ready to plunge in after a dog, but firefighters pulled him back and the dog died.

Both Starkeys were honored, and their families will each receive a $2,500 and a bronze medal. Three of the other 17 honorees also died while trying to make rescues; the recipients represent 11 states and Canada.

Tuesday’s recipients bring to 7,181 the number of Americans and Canadians who have received the Carnegie Medal since the Pittsburgh-based fund was established in 1904 by industrialist Andrew Carnegie. So far, the commission has awarded $17 million in grants and pensions.

The commission also honored:

- Russell S. Lauver, 79, of Altoona, Pa., who saved a 2-year-old girl floating face-down in a neighbor’s swimming pool June 25 despite suffering from congestive heart disease that severely restricted his activities.

- Andrew T. Spence, 16, of Port Simpson, British Columbia, who died while trying to save a 7-year-old boy who fell off a wharf into a Pacific Ocean bay June 26, 1986. Both drowned.

- Michael A. Gordon, 22, of Berrien Springs, Mich., who pulled a man from an overturned tractor-trailer moments before it burst into flames Oct. 21, 1986, in Berrien Springs.

- Gerald D. Crowley, 35, of Holyoke, Mass., who rescued a policeman being attacked by a mob at a Holyoke resort May 18, 1986.

- Joe Max Burton, 24, of Beebe, Ark., and Victor Preller, 30, of Bald Knob, Ark., who saved a 9-year-old boy from drowning in the floodwaters of Glaze Creek in Bald Knob on Feb. 28.

- William Davis, 47, of Sacramento, Calif., who rescued a policeman being assaulted in a Sacramento alley Jan. 30.

- Tommie Dean Brandt, 34, of Bremerton, Wash., and Gary L. Wells, 36, of Puyallup, Wash., who rescued a woman being attacked in a Tacoma, Wash., parking lot March 21.

- Terry P. Norwood, 23, of Leola, Ark., who died while attempting to save two boys from a burning house in Princeton, Ark., on April 13, 1986. The boys also died.

- Ray E. Blankenship, 36, of Andover, Ohio, who saved a 2-year-old girl from drowning in a drainage ditch swollen by heavy rain in Andover on July 2.

- Joel C. Clark, 26, of Buchanan, Ga., who pulled a 1-year-old boy from a burning car in Douglasville, Ga., on July 15.

- Robert B. Grubbs, 38, of Newnan, Ga., who pulled a woman, her infant son and her young nephew from a burning car in Douglasville, Ga., on July 15.

- Jack G. Bunch, 52, of Lakeville, Ind., who saved a pregnant woman who fell from a boat into St. Joseph River in Elkhart, Ind., on April 30.

- Lucille Babcock, 66, of Little Rock, Ark., who rushed to the aid of a female neighbor being assaulted by a man outside her home July 29. The disabled writer beat the man with her cane.

- John William Zaelit, 31, of Salt Lake City, who died while trying to save a 2-year-old boy who fell out of a canoe into the Jordan River in Salt Lake City on Aug. 15, 1986. The boy was saved by his father.

- Gregory P. Robertson, 35, of Phoenix, Ariz., leader of a group of parachutists, dove from their plane and pulled the rip cord of a woman who was knocked unconscious during her jump. Both landed safely in Coolidge, Ariz., on April 18.

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