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Man will receive Carnegie Medal for rescuing children who nearly drowned in St. Pete Beach

He jumped into the water without thinking twice.
Credit: Carnegie Hero Fund Commission

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — A Florida corrections sergeant is being awarded the highest honor for civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada for risking his own life to save two children at St. Pete Beach.

Scott Cooper, who works in Ocala, was fishing on Oct. 13, 2018, from a dock in the Gulf of Mexico when he heard shouting. That's when he saw a boy and girl -- roughly 5 and 12 -- struggling to swim near a jetty. 

Without thinking twice, Cooper jumped into the water, which was murky, deep and had a strong current, according to a news release. The little boy climbed on top of him, submerging him multiple times. But, Cooper was able to get himself above water and use both arms to get the children to safety.

Despite ingesting water and getting cuts on his hands and feet, Cooper was able to reach shallow water and wade ashore after making sure the kids were rescued.

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This week, The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced he was one of 15 more people who will receive the Carnegie Medal this year.

"The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others," the commission wrote in the announcement. "With this second announcement of 2020 recipients, a total of 10,168 Carnegie Medals have been awarded since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904."

Cooper, like his fellow awardees, will receive a financial grant. 

"Throughout the 116 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $41.8 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance," the commission said.

Click here to read about the other award recipients.

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