January 25, 2018

Van Hollen Presents Award to Local Maryland Hero

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen presented the Carnegie Hero Medal to John Hollyfield of Accokeek, Maryland for his heroism in saving the life of then-6-year-old Ashley Gruwell. The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the United States and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.

"I am honored to present this award to Mr. Hollyfield, whose actions were selfless and heroic," said Senator Van Hollen. "Along with the community of Accokeek, I want to commend him for his courage. It was my pleasure to host Mr. Hollyfield, Ashley, and their families and friends today, and to recognize this act of heroism."

On July 9, 2015, during a community gathering at the Moyaone Reserve, John Hollyfield was alerted by Lorenza Spruill to a large limb cracking from a tree and immediately realized that its fall was imminent. While Hollyfield and others yelled for guests nearby to disperse, 6-year-old Ashley remained atop the slide, confused by the shouting. Hollyfield, then standing near a pavilion, rushed to the slide, grabbed Ashley, and led her to the ground. Hollyfield then took her to safety in the vicinity of the pavilion. Within seconds, the limb fell across the top of the slide, destroying it and damaging other structures at the scene (photo here).

"Retrieving Ashley from the slide came more as second nature than anything -- I would do it again in a heartbeat," said Mr. Hollyfield. "I am grateful to Senator Van Hollen for gathering our family and friends here today, and the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission for this recognition. I am deeply humbled by this award and plan to continue serving my community in any way I can."

"It came as no surprise that John put himself in harm's way to save Ashley," said Rob Gruwell, Ashley's father. "He has always been highly regarded in the community, and we were just lucky to have him there that day. I appreciate Senator Van Hollen hosting us, and I know Ashley will remember this day for a long time to come."

Photo Caption - Left: Senator Van Hollen presents John Hollyfield with the Carnegie Hero Medal. Right: Lorenza Spruill, President of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission Eric Zahren, Ashley Gruwell, John Hollyfield, and Senator Van Hollen. High-resolution images available upon request.