Jeff Garrett

The Elk Grove City Council honored Jeff Garrett for his rescue in 2018.

An Elk Grove resident will receive an international honor for risking their lives to rescue others.  

Jeff Garrett saved a family of three from a burning truck that crashed near his home during the early morning of Oct. 21, 2018. Around 5:40 a.m., he climbed over his backyard wall, ran to the vehicle, unbuckled the victims’ seatbelts, and then moved them to safety while the fire was growing.

Garrett is now among 15 Americans and Canadians who will be awarded the Carnegie Medal for their heroism. The 116-year-old Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced the honorees on June 22.

“It’s really just a great honor because it’s all about helping people,” Garrett told the Citizen.

Other Carnegie Medal recipients include Isiah Jamal Pierce, 27, of Mississippi who returned to his burning home to rescue a baby, and 17-year-old Marcos Gil of Idaho who drowned after moving a girl from a deadly current.

As part of the Carnegie Medal recognition, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission will provide grants to the recipients. Garrett said that he plans to split his grant with Leo Drew Townsend, the youngest survivor that he rescued from the burning truck. He noted that Townsend was injured, but he insisted that Garrett first rescue his unconscious parents.

“He was so selfless and he wanted to make sure they were helped first,” Garrett said.

During his rescue, Garrett first went to help Leo – he recalled that the victim said, “No, no, help her first.’”

Garrett was able to remove all of the victims before the fire spread throughout the vehicle’s interior. He said that Leo deserves high credit.

“(Leo) was in the middle of a horrible fire,” he said. “For him to (help his parents), and to give up his self-preservation had really left a mark.”  

Garrett was honored by the Elk Grove City Council and the Cosumnes Community Services District board for his work. He was later nominated for the Carnegie Medal and he underwent an interview by the awards commission.

“(The medal) is something that is very exciting to me because helping people is a great thing to be honored for,” Garrett said.