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Kiwanis International honors BEA student who helped during I-80 pileup

A recent graduate of Bald Eagle Area High School, Dan Johnson, of Howard has received a Kiwanis International Medal for Heroism.
Johnson is being honored for his efforts in the aftermath of a huge pileup on Interstate 80 near Bellefonte in January of this year.
“He is the first-ever from Pennsylvania,” said Richard L. Kisslak of Kiwanis District III.
Kisslak nominated Johnson for the Robert P. Connelly Medal for Heroism.
Johnson received his medal at a state Kiwanis convention held last weekend in Philadelphia.
The medal was created by the Kiwanis International to honor a 34-year-old member who died during his heroic efforts.
On September 23, 1966, Robert P. Connelly, a member of the Lisle, Illinois Kiwanis Club was selling peanuts at a local railroad station and rushed to the aid of a young woman with artificial legs who lost her balance and fell onto the tracks, directly in front of an approaching train. Before Connelly could pull the woman from the tracks, the train hit both of them and they were killed.
The First Robert P. Connelly Medal for Heroism was awarded posthumously to Robert P. Connelly in 1967 during the 52nd annual Kiwanis International Convention in Houston, TX. Since the inception of the medal, approximately 500 have been awarded.
The Kiwanis International Board of Trustees established the medal to honor both Kiwanis members and non-members who had no official capacity in a rescue effort.
However, they decided to risk harm or death to save the life of another person or persons (typically, someone they do not know) when they just have easily could have passed by the scene of an incident.
Johnson’s efforts included calling 911, aiding survivors and warning approaching traffic about the accident. The pileup involved nearly four dozen vehicles and occurred during a severe snow event which reduced visibility on the highway.
A half-a-dozen people died in the pileup and it appears more lives could have been lost if it weren’t for Johnson’s efforts.
Kisslak said the medal and a monetary award Johnson received last weekend is just part of a two-step process. His efforts will now be considered at the Kiwanis International convention next year in Hawaii.
In addition to the medal, Johnson also earned a $500 savings bond at the state level and is now eligible for a $10,000 award at next year’s international convention.