Schaumburg man who saved woman from burning car receives Carnegie Medal for 2018 heroism

  • Matt Kosiarski of Schaumburg, who received South Barrington's Lifesaving Award last year for leaping to the assistance of a 61-year-old village resident trapped in a tipped-over and burning SUV, has now received the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism in recognition of the same act.

    Matt Kosiarski of Schaumburg, who received South Barrington's Lifesaving Award last year for leaping to the assistance of a 61-year-old village resident trapped in a tipped-over and burning SUV, has now received the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism in recognition of the same act. Courtesy of South Barrington

  • This is the burning vehicle from which Matt Kosiarski of Schaumburg saved a 61-year-old South Barrington woman on Mundhank Road in South Barrington in July 2018. Kosiarski has been named a recipient of the Carnegie Medal for heroism in recognition of his selfless deed.

    This is the burning vehicle from which Matt Kosiarski of Schaumburg saved a 61-year-old South Barrington woman on Mundhank Road in South Barrington in July 2018. Kosiarski has been named a recipient of the Carnegie Medal for heroism in recognition of his selfless deed. Courtesy of Matt Kosiarski

 
 
Updated 12/17/2019 4:46 PM

A Schaumburg man who rescued a 61-year-old South Barrington woman from her overturned and burning SUV in July 2018 is the only Illinois resident among 18 newly named recipients of the Carnegie Medal for heroism.

Maciej "Matt" Kosiarski was 30 years old and returning to Rosati's Sports Bar in Hoffman Estates after he delivered a pizza for the restaurant when he made the split-second decision to help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kosiarski received South Barrington's Lifesaving Award in August 2018, but the Carnegie Medal is considered the highest honor for civilian heroism in the United States and Canada.

As South Barrington Police Chief Tom Roman told the Daily Herald last year, the 61-year-old woman had been driving east on Mundhank Road east of Barrington Road when her SUV struck something on the road, hit a tree and turned on its side at 8:30 p.m. July 3, 2018.

Kosiarski drove up to the scene in his car, slowed down and was rear-ended by the distracted driver behind him.

After making sure the woman in the vehicle behind him was OK, he ran over to where an older man using a rock was unsuccessfully trying to break open the window of the tipped-over and burning SUV.

"To be honest, there wasn't anything going through my mind about whether I should or shouldn't help," Kosiarski told the Daily Herald. "I didn't second-guess myself."

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He jumped on top of the SUV, where the driver's-side door was facing the sky. Unable to open that door, he got in through the passenger door behind it and helped free the woman from her seat belt and seat. Kosiarski and the other man at the scene lowered the woman to the ground.

"I put her on my back and carried her across the street and put her in my car," he said.

Kosiarski said firefighters who extinguished the blaze told him the woman probably would have died of smoke inhalation before they arrived if he hadn't freed her from the vehicle.

"It was way above the call of duty," Roman said of Kosiarski's actions.

A total of 10,135 Carnegie Medals have been awarded since the fund was established by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1904.

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