On 22 February 2016, Kiera Larsen, a 10-year-old girl, died while saving the life of two-year-old Emma Gusich in San Diego County, California. The two-year-old was playing when a 1999 Mercedes parked on a sloping driveway slipped into neutral and started rolling backwards toward the toddler. Seeing what was happening, Kiera ran to the toddler and pushed her out of the way of the rolling car, but the car ran over her and dragged her several feet. Paramedics took her to a hospital, where she died.
Another child was present: Emmah’s one-year-old sister, Adison. Alissa Jenkins, the mother of the two girls, said about Kiera, “She is truly a hero. She will forever be my kids’ guardian angel. She saved both my daughters’ lives.’ These are my two kids that I have and both of them could’ve been gone in an instant and she stepped in and took over and did what she knows best to do — and that’s to protect those around her.”
In November 2016, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission named her a Carnegie hero and released this statement: “In the case of Kiera Larsen, we are all the more humbled by such a young person’s capacity to selflessly disregard her own safety to save the life of another child. Her sacrifice both breaks our hearts and raises us up. She represents the essence of the award and the ideals that its creator, Andrew Carnegie, sought to recognize.”
Cherise Larsen, Kiera’s stepmother, said, “It comes with a range of emotions: You’re so happy that she won this, but it brings back memories that she’s gone and the reason that she did this. She is one of the youngest that has ever received it; there is only very few that have been the age of 10 and younger to have received it and that right there speaks for itself.”
The page dedicated to Kiera Vera Larsen on the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission website states this:
“Kiera Vera Larsen died saving Emmah Gusich from being struck by a runaway vehicle, El Cajon, California, February 22, 2016.
“Emmah, 2, was playing on a sloped residential driveway behind a parked sport utility vehicle when the vehicle began rolling backward toward her.
“Kiera, 10, student of El Cajon, had been on the deck of the nearby residence and when next seen was running alongside the moving vehicle toward Emmah.
“Entering the vehicle’s path, Kiera pushed Emmah aside, but the vehicle then struck Kiera, knocked her down, and dragged her several feet before it was stopped.
“Emmah sustained only minor scrapes, but Kiera died of her injuries.”
California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Pearlstein said, “A child died heroically. I mean if you think about it, she sacrificed herself for another small child.”
Ms. Jenkins’ fiancé, Jonathan Gusich, said about Kiera, “She was always looking out for them and apparently she gave her life for my kids. I don’t know how to repay them, repay her. She must have been the guardian angel yesterday and they’re here because of her.”
A Go Fund Me Account was set up for donations for funeral expenses. The page stated that Kiera was a “sweet girl.” In addition, it included this message from Kiera’s family:
“Those of you who had the pleasure of knowing Kiera know that she is such an amazing, beautiful, smart and funny little girl. She truly brings so much love and happiness to so many people.
“The entire Larsen family cannot thank every single one of you for your love, support and prayers.
“You have no idea how much seeing the support from so many people has helped us during this incredibly tough time.
“Again, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Source: David Hernandez, Lyndsay Winkley, “10-year-old girl is killed while saving toddler from runaway SUV.” Los Angeles Times. 25 February 2016 <http://tinyurl.com/yb43wy39>.
Also: Bob Ponting and Feloicia Martinez, “East County girl who died saving 2-year-old named Carnegie Hero.” Fox 5 (San Diego, California). 20 December 2016 <http://tinyurl.com/y9tp3jbv>.
Also: Kiera Vera Larsen. Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. <http://www.carnegiehero.org/kiera-vera-larsen/> Accessed 30 May 2017.
Also: Joel Christie, “Hero 10-year-old girl dies saving the lives of two toddlers by pushing them out of the path of a runaway SUV.” Daily Mail (UK). 25 February 2016 <http://tinyurl.com/jdyo6pt>.