Mississippi man who died after running into burning house to save baby wins hero award

Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission this week announced 15 people were named Carnegie heroes for entering into mortal danger to rescue others — one man from Mississippi received his award posthumously after he died a hero.

Each winner receives the Carnegie Medal – the highest honor for civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada – for risking their lives while trying to save others from life-threatening perils.

Isiah Jamal Pierce, 27, re-entered his burning home to save his partner’s baby.

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Pierce and his partner were sleeping in their bedroom with her 1-year-old daughter, Mahogany R. Brownlow, when a fire broke out in their Laurel, Mississippi, home during the night of Dec. 19, 2018.

Pierce, a poultry plant worker, woke up and attempted to douse the flames with buckets of water, while his partner guided her three oldest children outside to safety.

The fire grew and spread, and Pierce exited the home.

Outside, Mahogany’s mother and Pierce realized the baby was still inside.

Pierce took a deep breath and ran back into the burning home as dense, black smoke filled an interior hallway. He did not return outside.

Fire engulfed the home, and firefighters could not enter it until after the fire was extinguished.

They eventually found the bodies of Mahogany and Pierce in the bedroom, where they had died of smoke inhalation.

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.

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.

Commission Chair Mark Laskow said each of the awardees or their survivors will also 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.