Two young girls now have a guardian angel
For Robin E. Goodpaster and her young nieces, Crystal and Brittany, Tracy Johnson is a “guardian angel.”
Tracy Johnson, 22, Depauw, was honored Sunday for saving the lives of Goodpaster, Brittany and Crystal after a car accident last July. Johnson was awarded the Carnegie Medal, a bronze medal that’s presented “to persons who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.”
The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission also gives each awardee a $3,500 grant.
A ceremony was held Sunday on Corydon’s town square to honor Johnson. Friends and family of both Johnson and the survivors attended.
On July 10, 2000, Johnson saved the accident victims from burning to death after a car crash near Georgetown.
Goodpaster, 42, was driving west on S.R. 64 when her car left the highway, struck a concrete abutment, and burst into flames just west of Angel Run Road. Johnson, a construction worker, stopped at the scene and pulled Goodpaster, Crystal, 5, and Brittany, 3, from the burning vehicle moments before flames engulfed the car. The gas tank had been ripped open during the crash.
Despite some injuries, all have recovered.
“If he hadn’t been there at the time he was, I would have been working a three fatality instead of Stat-flighting two and getting an ambulance for one,” said Officer Randy Orme, the first Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. officer on the scene at the accident. “He went into the burning vehicle three times to pull them out. He’s very deserving.”
Orme was present Sunday to give Johnson a certificate from the Carnegie Commission. Orme praised Johnson for his heroism. “He placed his life in danger to save three lives,” Orme said.
Goodpaster read a thank-you letter to her hero.
“Thank you, Tracy, for allowing us to live our lives,” she said.
Crystal and Brittany each gave Johnson six yellow roses and a big hug. Goodpaster family members gave Johnson cards and gifts.
“He’s our gaurdian angel,” Goodpaster said before the ceremony began.
Goodpaster is the guardian of both Brittany and Crystal, whose mother, Jennifer Turben, was murdered in Crawford County in 1997. (Her husband has since been found guilty of the crime and is serving time in an Indiana State Prison.)
Crystal was happy to talk about her hero.
“The car wreck was right there behind the road, then Tracy saved us,” Crystal said. “I like him for saving me out of the car.”
Goodpaster said Johnson is very shy about his heroism.
“You help who you can,” Johnson said. He said he is aware that he is now regarded as a guardian angel, and often receives cards and pictures from those he rescued.
“He’s the type that doesn’t want any thank you,” Goodpaster said. “You don’t find many people like that.”
Johnson’s father, Jim Johnson, also acknowledged that Tracy does not want attention about the rescue. “He’s subdued about it,” Jim said. “He’s still running with some friends of his who don’t know what he did a year ago.”
Goodpaster said she keeps in touch with Johnson, and will continue to.
“The girls will be brought up to know that (Tracy) is their guardian angel.”