Skip to main content

Minnesotan who rescued baby from burning house given heroism award

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

One Saturday back in September of 2012, Matthew Schons awoke to the sound of his neighbor's house exploding.

He raced outside and was told a 2-month-old baby was inside – so he instantly took action. He went through the front door of the burning house, emerging into a room full of thick smoke. He moved along the living room's perimeter, passing within inches of flames, until he found young Jadyn B. Haugen in her crib. He grabbed the infant, cradled her in one arm, and sprinted back outside with an arm over his face.

"It was kind of an instinctive thing," Schons told the Marshall Independent at the time. "I just reacted. We saw the little girl run outside yelling, 'Help, help,' and she ran over to the neighbors. Then the mom said the baby was still inside, so I took it upon myself to see if I could find her. It was very smoky inside and hard to see and pretty hard to breathe; I was lucky I was able to find her and get her outta there."

Schons used the term lucky – one organization prefers the word heroic.

Schons was awarded a Carnegie Medal for Civilian Heroism Wednesday for his actions that night in Tracy, Minnesota. The now-25-year-old is one of 22 people to receive the national award from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, given to "those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others." He gets a bronze medallion and $5,000 from the commission.

FOX 9 says the explosion blew the house's chimney off, and sent glass flying into the street. The Star Tribune says Schon was shirtless and in flannel pajama pants when he ran into the burning house.

The infant suffered significant burns but recovered, FOX 9 reports; her mother, Sonja Timmons, and two other children were injured in the explosion and taken to the hospital.

WCCO had a phone interview with him shortly after the incident.

[preserve][/preserve]

Other winners of the Carnegie Medal this year include a Texas duo that tried to stop an armed assault; a Kentucky man who died trying to save others from drowning; and an Iowa man who pushed a stuck car off train tracks with a speeding locomotive just a few hundred feet away.

The commission says it's awarded a total of 9,675 medals since its inception in 1904, and doled out $36 million in one-time grants, scholarships, death benefits and continuing assistance. Ninety-five of those medals have gone to someone in Minnesota. The most recent winner from the North Star state, prior to Schon was Pierre Johnson of Brooklyn Park, given a Carnegie Medal for rescuing a 91-year-old, wheelchair-bound woman from a fire in 2012.

Johnson, the Star Tribune reported, was sent to prison for selling cocaine shortly after saving the woman's life, but was given the honor even after being incarcerated – a gesture he said he was overwhelmed by. He wanted to use the recognition to help get his life on track.

“It shows you never know what is going to happen in life,” he told the paper at the time. “I have to take full advantage of this break.”

The earliest Minnesotan to be given a Carnegie Medal was Rachel E. Lyon. In 1906, the 20-year-old died while trying to save another woman from a fire in Long Lake, Minnesota. Lyon found the woman on fire and tried to beat out the flames, but caught on fire herself.

Next Up

FSmfYf0WABgrNhI

Stevens County may have been hit the hardest by Thursday storms

The entire county was without power after the storms blew through Thursday evening.

State Patrol

3 killed, 1 critical after trio of crashes in Minnesota Thursday

One person also faces life-threatening injuries in a crash that happened in Olmsted County.

Screen Shot 2022-05-13 at 1.25.08 PM

Mora woman saves pelican caught in fishing line for days

A birthday fishing trip shapes into a heroic tale.

Kelsey Peterson in the documentary, "Move Me."

Doc depicting MN dancer's journey with paralysis debuts at Twin Cities film festival

The film surrounds St. Paul-born Kelsey Peterson, who continues to pursue her passions in dance after being paralyzed from the chest down in 2012.

Milwaukee Ave

Gallery: Rare opportunity to own a home on historic Milwaukee Avenue

All the houses on the avenue front onto a pedestrian mall in south Minneapolis.

US Secretary of Defense COVID vaccine flickr

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, May 13

The next update will be provided Monday.

storm

Minnesota part of the top 2 hurricane force wind events since 2004

Photo above shows the ominous view in Marshall, Minnesota as a dangerous line of storms approached Thursday afternoon.

Screen Shot 2022-05-13 at 9.24.48 AM

DFL efforts to pass abortion, reproductive health bills blocked in Senate

The push to pass a slate of abortion and healthcare-related bills comes after a leaked Supreme Court opinion draft indicated Roe v Wade will be overturned.

Screen Shot 2022-05-13 at 8.16.56 AM

Teen pulled from St. Croix River Thursday dies

The teen was located around 40 minutes after he had gone under water.

Screen Shot 2022-05-13 at 7.23.52 AM

Thursday performances of Runestone! canceled due to COVID cases

This weekend's performances are still going ahead, History Theatre says.

Screen Shot 2022-05-12 at 7.12.27 PM

Storms cause grain bin to fall, killing one in Kandiyohi County

The National Weather Service confirmed the death on Thursday evening.

Related

Minnesota Cub Scout honored with heroism award

Antonio Vandal was given a national award for helping save his friend's life. The 10-year-old Cub Scout and his dad were on their first canoe trip in 2010 when a young boy without a lifejacket was tossed into the rushing Namekagon River. Antonio and his dad quickly came to the rescue and helped pull the boy to safety.