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Dayton Man Receives National Honor, Key to City for Heroism

A year and a half ago, Kristian Harrison awoke to find his neighbor's house on fire.

He had heard a man yelling for help outside his Dayton home.

Barefoot and just awakened, Harrison rushed to help and even though he saw the neighbor's house on fire, he ran inside.

Harrison dropped to his knees and crawled to his 29-year old neighbor, who was unresponsive on the floor about 18-feet inside.

With the ceiling above them engulfed in flames, Harrison dragged his neighbor out of the home and to safety.

The man suffered severe burns, but survived. Harrison escaped injury.

On Tuesday night, many months after that November morning, Harrison stood before the Dayton city council and received an award from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, one of nineteen nationally to be so honored. The commission, named for 19th century industrialist Andrew Carnegie, gives the awards each year to those who exhibit heroism and bravery.

"I have long felt that the heroes and those dependent upon them should be freed from pecuniary cares resulting from their heroism, and, as a fund for this purpose, I have transferred to the Commission five million dollars of First Collateral Five Per Cent," Carnegie wrote in establishing the fund in 1904. 

In addition to the Carnegie honor, Harrison received citations from the Kentucky State Senate and House of Representatives, delivered in person by Dayton's Frankfort legislators, Sen. Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) and Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder).

Mayor Ben Baker presented Harrison with the Key to the City of Dayton.

"It's amazing what you've accomplished. You really changed a person's life and that's bigger than any award you could get," Keene said to Harrison. "Your heroism is phenomenal.

"So many people don't know what Dayton is about but Mr. Harrison is Dayton."

"You are a true neighbor and we are proud to have you," Baker said.

Harrison, dressed in shorts, said that he wished he had dressed for the occasion, but noted that he was just about to head to his backyard to do some work. "I wasn't expecting all this," he said. 

"I'm overwhelmed."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Top photo: Kris Harrison (left) is joined by Sen. Schroder, Rep. Keene, and Mayor Baker (RCN)

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Mayor Baker presents Harrison with the Key to the City (RCN)