MADELINE AMY SWEENEY AWARD
Know of a Massachusetts resident who has truly exhibited exceptional bravery, without regard for their own personal safety, in an effort to save the life or lives of another or others in actual imminent danger? We would like that person to be publicly recognized and appreciated, by becoming a nominee to receive the 2016 Madeline Amy Sweeney Award.
For 14 years, Amy Sweeney was an American Airlines flight attendant. She lived in Acton, Massachusetts with her husband, Michael Sweeney, and their two small children. On September 11, 2001, the day our nation was attacked by terrorists, Amy Sweeney was working on American Airlines Flight 11, the first airplane hijacked by the terrorists to devastate New York City by flying into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Before the plane hit the tower, Amy Sweeney had the courage and bravery to contact the airline’s ground services crew to convey critical information about the five hijackers and their fatal actions on the plane that morning. It is for Amy Sweeney’s heroism, and the heroism and brave spirit of so many of the victims on September 11, 2001, that this award has been created.
Please visit the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety, to complete an online nomination form, or to download a form you can complete and mail. Nominations must be received by July 31, 2016. The time frame for the acts of heroism to be considered for this year’s award is July 15, 2015 through and including June 15, 2016.
The award recipient will be honored at a ceremony on September 11, 2016.
2016 Madeline Amy Sweeney Award Recipient
2016 – George Heath (Posthumous)
While dining with his wife Rosemary at Bertucci’s restaurant in Taunton on May 10, 2016, a man wielding a knife entered the restaurant and began to stab innocent patrons and employees. In an act of extraordinary bravery and with complete disregard for his own safety, George Heath grabbed the crazed murderer, shielding a pregnant woman from the knife-wielding, out-of-control man. Although the woman was stabbed, Mr. Heath saved her and her unborn child from being brutally murdered.
Past Award Recipients
2015 – Albeiro Gomez
While working as a livery driver, Mr. Gomez’s vehicle was pulled over by several State Police vehicles to execute a felony stop. Unbeknownst to Mr. Gomez, the female and child passengers in his vehicle had been kidnapped by the male passenger. As he stopped the vehicle, he turned to the backseat to see that the suspect was holding a firearm. Without regard for his safety, he lunged over the seat and grabbed the gun. During the struggle, the female victim was able to escape the vehicle safely with the child. The Troopers arriving on the scene were then able to seize the weapon and execute the arrest.
2014 – Michael DeSousa
Mr. Desousa saw flames corning out of a home when he was stopped at a Fall River intersection. Mr. DeSousa parked his vehicle and knocked on the window of the burning building, which also houses a restaurant. He notified the owner that the building was on fire and then forced the hall door open to alert the other tenants. Realizing that a resident was in distress, he carried her outside to safety, amid increasing smoke. He then went to a neighboring building and notified those tenants to evacuate.
2013 – Carlos Arredondo
Mr. Arredondo was standing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, waiting to hand out American flags in memory of his son, who’d lost his life fighting in Iraq. When the first bomb exploded, Mr. Arredondo was in the bleachers, wearing his signature cowboy hat. He immediately vaulted the barricade and raced straight into the acrid cloud, where he saw a big pool of blood and several severed limbs. Directly in front of him, a young man with no legs was trying to stand up. His was bleeding profusely, apparently beyond help. Arredondo used a sweater offered by a bystander to apply tourniquets to the man’s legs, then grabbed an available wheelchair. Holding up what remained of the man’s legs, Arredondo whisked him toward the medical tent and directly into an ambulance. There is no doubt that Mr. Arredondo heroically saved the man’s life.
2012 – Paul Antonino
Mr. Antonino, of Wakefield, MA, rushed into a burning triple decker in East Boston. Going door to door, floor to floor, he alerted tenants to the fire and directed them to vacate, yelling “let’s go we’ve got to get out.” By his bravery and quick thinking, Mr. Antonio helped 23 adults and seven children escape safety. Firefighters were astounded that everyone got out alive.
2011 – Angelica Guerrero (Posthumous)
Mrs. Guerrero, 39, of West Springfield, died during a historic tornado while shielding her 15 year old daughter in the bath tub as her family’s triple decker collapsed on top of them. It took firefighters more than two hours to reach Angelica; her daughter survived.
2010 – Peter Chenevert, Michael Genest, Jessica Genest, and David Bianco
The foursome saved the driver of a crashed sport utility vehicle in Uxbridge, MA. Mr. Chenevert heard the accident occur and called 911 before rushing to the scene to help. The Genests and Mr. Bianco were passersby who stopped to assist the driver who was pinned inside the vehicle.
2009 – Marie Conley (Posthumous)
Ms. Conley, a crossing guard dressed in full uniform, was struck by a car as she attempted to help a child cross the street outside Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, MA. Witnesses said that when Ms. Conley saw the car was not slowing down; she clutched the child in her arms to protect him. Ms. Conley died from her injuries eight days after the accident.
2008 – Ben Papapietro
Mr. Papapietro escaped unscathed from a wrecked Green Line train at Riverside Station, then heard a trapped woman screaming from inside. Without concern for his own person, Mr. Papapietro rushed back into the mangled car and located the victim. He removed his shirt so he could hold it over her mouth to filter out the acrid smoke, and held her hand until emergency responders could reach them.
2007 – Peter Muthua
Mr. Muthua, 25, worked for Triangle, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower people with disabilities. He was the overnight attendant at a group home in Danversport when a blast rocked the neighborhood just before 3:00 A.M. Confronted with this extraordinary situation, Mr. Muthua rose to the occasion and more. Seeing the living room ceiling collapsing around him, Mr. Muthua fetched his car (parked perilously close to a gas station), parked it in front of the home, then went inside and coaxed the four male residents out of their rooms, carrying one of them out on his back. Never expecting to be hailed as a hero, he bravely honored his commitment to the men in his charge.
2006 – Henry Garvey, Jerry Morkeski, Greg Deighan, and Adam Speed
These four men bravely saved two lives in Newburyport, MA. After hearing a loud explosion at a neighbor’s home, they emerged from their own homes to find a nearby house on fire. Without hesitation, they entered the smoke-filled home twice despite the risk of a second explosion.
2005 – Charles Boudreau
2004 – George Kouloheras and Robert Michalczyk; Timothy Paquette
Mr. Kouloheras, 92, and Robert Michalczyk, both of Lowell, MA., observed a man climbing over a bridge railing with the clear intent of jumping into the fast moving waterway below. They left their cars and working together removed the suicidal man from the railing and restrained him on the sidewalk until help arrived.Mr. Paquette, of Auburn, MA, observed a plane crash upon takeoff from Fitchburg Municipal Airport. The plane caught fire with two male occupants trapped in the wreckage. Mr. Paquette stopped his car, ran to the plane, and pulled both critically injured victims from the cockpit to safety as flames consumed the plane.
2003 – Timothy Churchill, 17, Doreen Churchill, 43, Thomas Melucci, 18, Geoffrey Monks, 16
Four volunteers of the Pilgrim Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol, a civilian arm of the Air force, responded when a small plane carrying family of seven from Florida to New Hampshire crashed in the vicinity of Beartown State Forest, near New York state line.
2003 – Andrew MacDonald
Andrew, 13 years old, smelled smoke in his family’s three story home in Hull, MA. He quickly woke his two younger sisters, Alesia and Emily., saving their lives.
2002 – Tiago Medeiors
Mr. Medeiros, 51, of Fall River, MA, was travelling on Route 24 in Freetown when he spotted a burning car in the breakdown lane. He pulled a young woman from the engulfed car, saving her life.
2002 – Madeline Amy Sweeney (Posthumous)Amy’s story is recounted above.