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Hero who rescued woman honoured with international bravery award from Kiwanis

Recognition: Larry Simmons Jr is awarded an international medal for his courage in rescuing a woman trapped in a sunken car (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A hero who rescued a woman from a sunken car has become the first Bermudian to win an international bravery award from a global service organisation.

Larry Simmons Jr, 25, was awarded the Robert P Connelly Medal of Heroism by Kiwanis International.

He is one of only 600 people who have won the honour since it was created more than 50 years ago.

Mr Simmons, an engineer, said: “I’m just very thankful and honoured to get the award from the committee.

“It’s a small number of people who get this award and I’m pleased to be the first Bermudian to get it.”

Mr Simmons said his actions in the rescue of friend Jessica Atcheson were a product of his nature and upbringing.

He added: “It was more of an instinct. It’s something I was born with.

“At the time I was surprised, but I was raised up and taught to be a helpful person and it was just a situation that I found myself in where I was able to help somebody.

“I would definitely do it again if I had to. It’s what I love to do, to help people. It doesn’t matter what it is, even if it’s something small like helping someone across the street.

“I’m basically just a helpful person.”

Mr Simmons helped to pull Ms Atcheson, 29, from her vehicle after it landed upside down in the water near the West End Sailboat Club in Sandys in December 2020.

Mr Simmons, from Somerset, was honoured by the St George’s branch of the Kiwanis organisation, who made him Hero of the Year.

Details of the award were passed on to the New England area division of Kiwanis, of which Bermuda is an affiliate, and the nomination went “up the chain” to the organisation’s international board.

The board ruled that Mr Simmons was a worthy winner of the heroism medal.

The award is named after Robert P Connelly, a Kiwanian who tried to save a woman who was walking across a railroad track as a train approached.

Mr Connelly and the woman were killed in the 1966 incident and the organisation named a medal after him to honour his heroism and sacrifice.

Mr Simmons said in an earlier interview that he knew instinctively that he had to take action to save Ms Atcheson’s life.

He added: “Everything was going through my mind at the time, but I couldn’t really think at that moment — it was more just taking action.

“I just took it upon myself to just go ahead and jump right in. I had no time wasted. I just knew from my first instinct that I had to go and just get this girl out of this car.

“I just really had to do what I could to get her out of the car because there was so much on the line.

“She has a daughter and I can’t just let her mother go and have her out of her daughter’s life at such a young age.

“So I did it for her, I did it for the family, I did it for me. I was just making sure that she was out of the car alive.”

Ms Atcheson suffered a broken leg and internal injuries, including cracked ribs and swelling in her lungs, but made a full recovery from her ordeal.

There are Kiwanis clubs in more than 80 countries and the organisation promotes volunteer work and self-sacrifice.

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Published February 02, 2022 at 11:03 am (Updated February 02, 2022 at 12:35 pm)

Hero who rescued woman honoured with international bravery award from Kiwanis

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