Teen who died in lake rescue effort honored

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PITTSBURGH – A Franklin County teenager who died while trying to save two girls from drowning in April 2011 was honored Tuesday for his heroic efforts.

     Bobby O’Quinn III, of Bude, was among 23 who received Carnegie medals for heroism by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. The 19-year-old Franklin County football standout was among five who were honored posthumously.

     In the April 2011 incident, O’Quinn was able to save one of two girls who were swimming at Okhissa Lake in Franklin County. O’Quinn, then a freshman at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, rescued the 9-year-old girl but he and a 7-year-old girl drowned.

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     After receiving All-Region and All-State honors at Franklin County as a defensive tackle, O’Quinn signed a scholarship to play for the Co-Lin Wolves. His strength and quickness made him a valuable addition to the Co-Lin squad.

     “Bobby was an undersized guy but he played with a big heart,” said Co-Lin head coach Glenn Davis. “He gave a big effort. We were counting on him for his sophomore season.”

     Davis said O’Quinn deserved the recognition. 

     “You can’t say enough about what an honor it is for him and his family,” Davis said. “It’s a mighty big deal outside of Mississippi for people to recognize him.”

     Steel baron Andrew Carnegie was inspired to start the fund after hearing rescue stories from a mine disaster that killed 181 people.

     Carnegie medalists or their heirs receive financial grants approved by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. More than $34.4 million has been awarded to 9,539 honorees since the fund’s inception in 1904.

     New recipients are announced four times a year.

     The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, based in Pittsburgh, says its mission is to recognize people who perform heroic acts in civilian life and to provide financial help to those disabled, or to the dependents of those killed, by their heroism.

     Also honored posthumously for rescue attempts in which they died were Kyle Austin, 13, of Mattawana, Penn.; David Reichenberg, 50, of Spring Valley, N.Y.; Edward Power Jr., 76, of Everett, Mass.; and Bryan Phillip Gross, 29, of Douglas, Wyo.