Bill Ayotte of Churchill, who used a shovel to save a woman from an attacking polar bear in 2013, has another medal to add to his collection after being awarded a Carnegie Medal Sept. 24.
Ayotte was one of 22 Americans and Canadians presented the medals, which are awarded to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or trying to save someone’s life. The medals, awarded by the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Carnegie Hero Fund, also come with a financial grant for the recipient or their survivors. The fund has awarded 60 medals in 2015 and 9,797 since being established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1904.
Ayotte previously received a Star of Courage, Canada’s second-highest decoration for bravery, from Gov.-Gen. David Johnston in May and the Order of the Buffalo Hunt, one of Manitoba’s highest honours, last October for his actions.
Ayotte, 69 at the time, grabbed a shovel and began hitting the bear when it attacked Erin Greene on Nov. 1, 2013, distracting it long enough for her to escape. The bear then mauled him and neighbours shot at the bear to chase it away. He was hospitalized for a week with injuries including extensive lacerations and a nearly severed ear but recovered fully.