Annual ceremony in Iowa Capitol honoring lifesavers

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds has recognized two men who rescued people from fires in Guttenberg and Cylinder with the Governor’s annual Lifesaving Awards.

Reynolds opened the ceremony Monday in the Capitol Rotunda. “What I always look forward to most about this event is hearing the remarkable stories of our award winners,” Reynolds said.

Caleb Crocker was working at a group home in Guttenberg for Iowans with disabilities when it caught fire last December. Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Bayens said Crocker was treated for smoke inhalation after he rescued residents.

“As the home started to fill with smoke, Caleb continually re-entered the home not once, not twice, but five times and guided and in some instances carried the residents to safety,” Bayen said. “Throughout this ordeal, Caleb remained calm and focused even though the residents were scared, confused and didn’t really appreciate what was unfolding.”

Andrew Kreig of Cylinder, a farm hand in rural Palo Alto County, rescued an elderly person from a burning home on November 28, 2022. Someone who noticed smoke coming from the home called Kreig and asked him to drive over and check. Bayens said when Kreig arrived, the home was on fire, the door was locked and he could see someone was inside.

“Andrew forced his way in through the locked door, ventured inside the burning home, battled the thick smoke billowing inside and located the elderly resident lying on the floor,” Bayens said.

Another annual award — recognizing peace officers and fire fighters for heroic acts — goes to the Shelby County Sheriff and three deputies. The officers rescued a suicidal man who had barricaded himself in a home in Elkhorn, screwed the doors shut from the inside and set the home on fire. Bayens said as rounds of ammunition started exploding inside the home, the man started pounding on a door asking for help, Bayens said.

The Sullivan Brothers’ Award of Valor is named in honor of five brothers from Waterloo who perished while serving together on a Navy ship that was sunk during World War II. Waterloo third grade teacher Kelly Sullivan, the granddaughter of Albert Sullivan, attended the ceremony in the Capitol rotunda.