Two Northern Michigan Men Receive National Carnegie Hero Award After Saving 5-Year-Old Girl

Two men from northern Michigan are receiving the Carnegie Hero Award, an award given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who risk their lives to save other’s.

July 25, 2020 started out as a normal, sunny day at Peterson Beach in Honor. But what started as normal, quickly turned into chaos. Jason Hadfield and Justin Perry, who didn’t know each other at the time, were visiting the beach with their families. Little did they know, they’d become hero’s that day.

“We had just arrived and we saw a family with two kids, and they had these massive inflatables,” said Hadfield. “They were right next to us. When we set up, I went back to the car, and when I got back, my wife was like, “I think they’re in trouble.”

The rope keeping the inflatables close to shore had become untied, sending a 5-year-old girl out to Lake Michigan.

“Justin was able to get to her first, and by the grace of God or whatever, she was just in the water on her back, treading water the whole time,” said Hadfield. “She had been through something at school, I think they told her if you’re ever in the water, just lie on your back and kick your legs and float. And so that’s what she remembered to do, and it that saved her life.”

Perry said the current was taking her out quickly.

“When we first saw her flip off, she was probably 300 yards, and by the time I got to her, she was probably 400 yards,” he said. “She was apparently reenacting things that she had done other times at the beach, and just acting like a mermaid.”

“It’s a really big honor, and the more I’ve read into it the last couple of years since we’ve been nominated, the more I became aware of what a big deal and honor it was,” said Perry.

The 5-year-old ended up being ok. Her family wishes to remain anonymous.