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Minnesota felon rewarded for heroic act

October 4, 2013
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota man imprisoned for drug dealing is among 22 Americans recently named Carnegie Heroes.

Pierre Johnson said he's grateful the Carnegie selection board was able to look beyond his criminal record and give him a chance. Johnson wins the award for his bravery in rescuing a 91-year-old woman from the second floor of her burning home in Brooklyn Park in May 2012. The following month, Johnson pleaded guilty to selling cocaine.

On Oct. 15, Johnson is expected to be released from the Willow River Correctional Facility, an intensive boot camp program, where he served time for his drug dealing.

"It shows you never know what is going to happen in life," he told the Star Tribune ( ).

Recipients of Carnegie Hero medals are announced four times a year. A candidate for an award must be a civilian who voluntarily risks his or her life to an extraordinary degree while saving or trying to save the life of another person. The awards are funded by steel baron Andrew Carnegie.

Johnson, 35, wins a $5,000 prize and an educational scholarship for his bravery. Johnson said his unlikely selection for the prestigious award is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to straighten out for good.

Jennifer Durdahl, the mother of Johnson's two sons, said that at the time of the fire he was trying to get his life on track. He was working full time and being a good father, she said.

"Part of getting the award shows he's a good person, for sure," Durdahl said. "I'm very proud of him, and I'm excited about getting back to being a family and moving on."


Information from: Star Tribune,



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