Michigan Family Receives Carnegie Hero Award for Rescue off Kilauea

Media Release:

In its fourth and final award announcement of 2010, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission today named 21 individuals from throughout the United States and Canada as recipients of the CARNEGIE MEDAL. The medal is given to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.


The heroes announced today bring to 85 the number of awards made in 2010 and to 9,412 the total number of awards since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission President Mark Laskow stated that each of the awardees or their next of kin will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 106 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $32.9 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

Keith B. Havens, 54; Zachary Prince Havens, 20; and Zane W. Havens, 18, of Albion, Mich., saved Brittany and Jason Sorensen from drowning in Kilauea, Hawaii, in June 2008.

Keith B., Zachary Prince, and Zane W. Havens saved Brittany and Jason Sorensen from drowning, Kilauea, Hawaii, June 29, 2008. Brittany and her husband Jason were snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean at a coral reef just off a beach when they became caught in a very strong current that carried them seaward through a channel in the reef. Unable to return to shore, they shouted and waved their arms for help. On vacation, Keith, 54, aquatic director and swim coach, was on the beach with his sons Zachary, 20, and Zane, 18, both college students, and became aware of the situation. They entered the water and swam out toward the victims, reaching Brittany at a point about 300 feet from shore. As Zachary and Zane continued to Jason, who was about 100 feet farther out, Keith had Brittany hold to him while he swam toward shore. Unable to escape the current by swimming parallel to shore, because of the channel configuration along with converging waves, Keith swam directly against it. After taking Brittany to wadable water, he returned to the channel with a rescue tube that had been offered from shore. Zachary and Zane, meanwhile, had reached Jason. On either side of him, they grasped him by the arms and started to swim against the current toward shore, en route pausing to rest on the coral. Keith joined them, had Jason hold to the rescue tube, and again swam against the current the rest of the way toward shore, towing Jason as he was accompanied by Zachary and Zane. Progress was arduous, Keith at one point swimming under water and pulling himself along the coral outcroppings. He and his sons reached wadable water with Jason, and all exited to safety. Keith and his sons sustained lacerations from the coral, and they recovered.

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