Kenneth Brian McCarter from South Carolina was recently awarded the prestigious Carnegie Medal after saving his 73-year-old neighbor from a 10-foot alligator in July 2020.
Kenneth was one of only 17 Americans who received the honor in 2021 and usually, this medal is given to rescue workers, firefighters, and the military for doing extremely dangerous things to save or attempt to save others.
The 73-year-old neighbor, Carol S. DeLillio, celebrated her recovery at the ceremony and retold the story around her one-year anniversary after the attack. Carol has undergone multiple surgeries to fix her leg and is now able to walk again.
Both Kenneth and Carol spoke about the attack that took place in early July 2020 while Carol was sprucing up her yard – something that her neighbors watched her do for 20 years.
Carol said she had just finished selling her home earlier that day when the alligator charged at her, bit her leg, and dragged her underwater into a nearby lagoon.
Kenneth was driving a golf cart with his four kids when they heard and saw splashing coming from the watering hole and he dove into the water in an attempt to save her, not realizing she was being attacked by an alligator.
Both Kenneth and Carol fought the reptile off in eight-foot-deep water until Kenneth’s oldest son was able to grab Carol’s hand and pull her out of the lagoon. Kenneth’s son held her hand until medics arrived on the scene and took her to the hospital.
Since then, they have both moved to different locations but have finally reunited a year after the attack, to award Kenneth at the Carnegie Medal ceremony. Kenneth said the honor was totally unexpected.
“I’m really grateful for the community and the nomination,” he said. “I’m kind of speechless.”
“It makes you realize how wonderful and special he is,” Carol said.
Kenneth was nominated by Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner, who gave him the medal in a recent ceremony attended by his friends, family, and other Callawassie neighbors.
“We think of first responders and our military as heroes but in this particular case here on Callawassie we were able to identify a civilian who was a hero,” Tanner said.