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Sikh man honored with national hero award for 2020 river rescue

A 31-year-old Sikh man was recently awarded one of North America’s highest civilian honors for his heroism in the rescue of three children from a river.

Manjit Singh of Fresno, California passed away in August 2020 attempting to save the lives of three children from the Kings River. Singh was honored as one of the 16 recipients of the Carnegie Medal, awarded to those who risked death or serious physical injury to save the lives of others, in the second announcement of 2023. 

During the day of the river rescue, Singh had seen three children struggling in the river and entered the river despite not knowing how to swim, KSEE reported

Singh attempted to save the life of 8-year-old Samantha Cruz Pedro, who had been separated from the other children and carried downstream by the current. 

Officials stated that Singh unwrapped his turban and extended it as a lifeline for the child. Shortly after, he was submerged by the water and onlookers lost sight of him. 

Pedro was recovered by another man and taken to a local hospital before dying six days later. Singh was recovered downstream unresponsive, but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, KSEE reported. 

“(He was a) very very good friend and big brother. I’m lost without my brother. He is 29 only,” Singh’s brother Gurpeet Singh said at the time of the incident. 

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