Wisconsin man who attempted to save two at Presque Isle named ‘Carnegie Hero’

PITTSBURGH, PA — A Rhinelander, WI man who attempted to save two lives at Little Presque Isle last summer was honored by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission on Tuesday.

Justin William Schroepfer, 24, was named as one of the fund’s “Carnegie Heroes.” On June 11th, 2016, Schroepfer died while attempting to save Kaylilyn Tansey and Abigail Sprinkle from drowning in Marquette.

Both Tansey and Sprinkle were wading waist-deep in Lake Superior near Little Presque Isle, intending to reach a nearby rock. Sprinkle reached a large rock close to the island, but Tansey struggled with the rough current. Sprinkle went back into the water to assisted Tansey and called for help.

Schroepfer was on-shore with his friends, saw the women struggling and decided to help them. He waded into the water, then swam through large waves to reach Tansey and Sprinkle. All three were then swept into deeper water, and Tansey and Schroepfer submerged.

Sprinkle, with the help of a man and woman wearing life vests, made it back to shore. She was treated for hypothermia and was later released from the hospital. Divers later recovered Tansey and Schroepfer about a half-mile from shore.

In response to the incident, a lifesaving device called EMILY was installed at Little Presque Isle in May of this year. EMILY is a remote controlled buoy that can maneuver through rip currents and other hazardous water conditions at 22 miles per hour to get to someone struggling in the water up to 1000 feet away.

Schroepfer is one of  20 individuals named as “Carnegie Hero” for extraordinary heroism. 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.

Seventy-seven people have been named “Carnegie Heroes” in 2017 and the award has been given to 9,991 individuals since the Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission Chair Mark Laskow said each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant.

To learn more about the other recipients or the honor itself, click HERE.