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Kurth, firefighters awarded for heroic acts in Harvard canoe incident

HARVARD – A Harvard man, who earlier this month jumped into a retention pond to save a young life, received a couple of rare awards from Harvard emergency crews for the act.

Tyler Kurth, 26, was awarded the Lifesaving Certificate award from the Harvard Fire Protection District and the Award of Valor from the Harvard Police Department on Tuesday.

“A lot of people would be willing to call 911 if they see someone in need of aid, but Tyler took steps that were above and beyond,” Police Chief Daniel Kazy-Garey said. Kazy-Garey called the Award of Valor “very rare.”

Kurth and his girlfriend had gone outside to use a grill on July 9 when they heard screaming coming from a nearby pond where a canoe occupied by two 12-year-olds and a 10-year-old had capsized.

Kurth jumped in and brought a struggling boy safely to the shore. A second boy was able to reach shore safely on his own. A third, 12-year-old Christian Robles, died in the incident.

“Had it not been for [Kurth’s] actions, there may have very well been another tragedy that day,” Kazy-Garey said.

The fire department also gave the lifesaving certificate to two of its own, Pete Livdahl and Charles Lorenz.

That night, in what the fire district’s board President Tom Condon said was a rare break in protocol, the firefighters jumped into the pond in street clothes.

Livdahl, off duty at the time, had responded to the general alarm while on his way home from work. Lorenz, who also works at the police department, was the first on-duty firefighter at the scene.

The two jumped in to help a man they saw clinging to the overturned canoe. The man was a poor swimmer but had jumped in to help, Condon said. They were able to bring him to safety.

“That’s not something we would normally do,” he said. “But the situation was so grave at that point that waiting for a dive team, or people with the appropriate equipment to dive, was the difference between life and death.”


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