‘Extraordinary Joe’ receives Carnegie Medal for extraordinary heroism

ST. GEORGE – A year ago the man dubbed “Extraordinary Joe” risked his life to save an unconscious woman in a runaway truck on Bluff Street. He has since been honored several times for his selfless service and was honored again Wednesday as he received the Carnegie Medal for Extraordinary Heroism.

Joe Hamblin, 36, of St. George, was presented with the award during a modest gathering of family and friends at the St. George City Offices. Also present was a representative of Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Office as well as Rep. Chris Stewart who presented Hamblin with the medal.

The Carnegie Medal for Civilian Heroism, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The incident Hamblin has become renown for happened March 31, 2016, and was reported by St. George News shortly after it occurred.

Hamblin, an Army veteran, was driving on Bluff Street toward a medical clinic to have his left foot dressed following surgery for an infection caused by shrapnel left from his time in Afghanistan, he said. While on his way to the clinic, he noticed a truck ahead of him driving in a slow and erratic fashion.

At first he thought it was a possible road rage incident as he watched the truck move along at speeds of 15-20 mph. The truck then hit the curb on the right and then veered left toward lanes of oncoming traffic.

Cars began to swerve around the truck as it moved forward while Hamblin moved his truck closer. His own truck had a raised profile, he said, and allowed him to look into the other truck’s cab and discover that the woman in the driver’s seat was slumped over.

At that moment he pulled over, jumped out of his truck and ran after the truck with the unconscious woman inside.

“I just jumped to it” he said. “I wasn’t thinking of myself.”

Read more: Extraordinary Joe: Veteran risks life to help stricken driver

A mix of instinct and military training seemingly took over, Hamblin said, as he described being able to jump on the driver’s side running board and banged on the window, trying to get the woman to wake up.

All the while other cars are still swerving about the vehicle, including a cement truck that nearly hit him, Hamblin said. He yelled at the woman to respond, but she did not and the driver’s side door was locked on top of that.

At this point Hamblin did what he called a “Dukes of Hazzard” move across the truck’s hood and secured himself on the other side where he was able to reach into the truck’s cab.

File photo: L-R: Former St. George News reporter Don Gilman interviews Joe Hamblin shortly about the actions he took to save a woman in a runaway truck on Bluff Street on March 31, 2016. Hamblin’s actions ultimately earned him the Carnegie Medal of Civilian Heroism in 2017, St. George, Utah, April 2, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

“So I reached in, grabbed the steering wheel and I was steering around cars,” he said. “We weren’t going very fast, maybe 15, 20 miles an hour at the most, but still the cars (were) coming at me pretty fast.”

He then saw a parking lot ahead and moved the truck toward it. Once the truck was off the street Hamblin slammed it into park and shut off the truck. After that he and responding police pulled the woman out of the truck and began to administer CPR until an ambulance arrived and took her to Dixie Regional Medical Center.

It wasn’t until the ordeal was over with that Hamblin felt the pain in his left foot and noticed how much it was bleeding. Fortunately medics at the scene were able to dress the wound.

Sadly, the woman died three days later, Hamblin said. The cause of her passing out on the road was determined by doctors to be an aneurysm, he said.

“Afterward some footage was sent to (St. George News) and that’s where everyone else heard (about) it and here I am (a) year later,” he said.

St. George News interviewed Hamblin shortly after the incident occurred. As the story was shared it soon caught the attention of many other individuals and groups who would go on to recognize Hamblin for his actions.

An image from Joe Hamblin’s dash camera showing the truck ahead in which the woman driving had passed out due to a medical issue, St. George, Utah, March 31, 2016 | Image courtesy of Joe Hamblin, St. George News

Included among the groups that have recognized Hamblin are the American Legion, the St. George Police Department, the City of St. George, the Utah House of Representatives, among others.

Somewhere along the way, he was nominated for the Carnegie Medal of Civilian Heroism. The medal is awarded to a select few from across the U.S. and Canada each year who have either risked or lost their lives while saving the lives of others.

“The Carnegie Medal for Civilian Heroism represents the person you are and the person you became at a moment’s notice to risk your life to save another,” Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote in a letter to Hamblin that was presented by Hatch Office staff member Courtney Brinkerhoff.

There’s no way of knowing how many lives may have been saved that day by Hamblin’s actions, St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.

Pike called Hamblin an example of courage and selflessness, as well as “a very special guy.”

While Hamblin did not seek the attention and praise given him, he was nonetheless appreciative for what it has done for him personally.

L-R: Joe Hamblin holds up the Carnegie Medal of Civilian Heroism while Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, reads a statement related to the actions qualifying Hamblin for the medal. Hamblin earned the medal for actions taken to save the life of an unconscious woman in a runaway truck, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Last year, prior to the incident on Bluff Street, Hamblin said, he was in a “dark place.” He was severely depressed and experiencing panic attacks at “every little thing.” He has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, for which he has a service dog assisting him.

“This honor has really given me a step-up, a purpose to want to do good and to want to do better for my city and my community,” he said. “It’s made me want to be a better person.”

Hamblin added that he wants to do what he can to be selfless and to serve his community, adding that it has helped him with his PTSD as he’s been set on the trail to learning to trust and love people again.

“I would do this a hundred times over,” he said.

As Stewart presented the Carnegie Medal to Hamblin, he read a prepared statement, part of which is shared below:

… Joseph chose to be a hero rather than a witness, taking bold action regardless of the risk it presented to his personal safety. Acting without hesitation and with tremendous precision, Joseph saved a life and eliminated a great risk being posed to others.

Joseph acted in the true spirit of selflessness involving not only true patriotism, but ultimately demonstrating the best elements of humanity: courage, selflessness and a willingness to take bold action.

If there were more people like Joseph we would no doubt see a world with less selfishness and tragedy, bystanders and more helping hands.

The Carnegie medal was awarded to 20 people this year, Stewart said, adding that he wasn’t aware of many other Utahns who have received the award.

After presenting the medal and reading the statement, Stewart, who is also a military veteran, saluted Hamblin.

“This was truly an honor for me,” Stewart said afterward. “To hear his story, to see his background, and to see his humility, and him say ‘I’m not a hero.’ I’m saying, ‘You are a hero.’”

Featured below is the original interview with Joe Hamblim following the March 31, 2016, incident.

Family and friends gathered at the St. George City Offices supporting Joe Hamblin’s receiving the Carnegie Medal for Civilian Heroism. He earned the medal for actions taken to save the life of an unconscious woman in a runaway truck, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • mesaman April 20, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Well done and congratulations on the occasion of being presented with the Carnegie Medal. Joe Hamlin, you are a true hero.

  • comments April 20, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    he did real good for a split second decision in the heat of the moment.

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