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Brainerd Eagle Scout honored for lifesaving effort

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Eagle Scout Ben Soukup hugs Caitlin Wallerus Saturday after the Life Saving Medal of Honor Award ceremony at St. Francis Catholic Church. Soukup received the Life Saving Medal of Honor and Dan Lambie received a co-rescuer sculpture for saving Wallerus. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video2 / 4
People stand for the color guard Saturday at St. Francis Catholic Church at the start of the Life Saving Medal of Honor Award ceremony. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video3 / 4
Eagle Scout Ben Soukup (left) receives the Life Saving Medal of Honor for saving Caitlin Wallerus. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video4 / 4

A Brainerd Eagle Scout and his work partner were honored Saturday for their part in a lifesaving rescue last year of a motorist in Maple Grove.

Eagle Scout Ben Soukup received the Life Saving Medal of Honor and co-rescuer Dan Lambie received a glass sculpture titled "Helping Hands" at St. Francis Catholic Church for saving the life of motorist Caitlin Wallerus.

On June 7, Soukup and Lambie were driving in Maple Grove when they saw a car running red light. According to a report from the Maple Grove Police Department, "(Soukup and Lambie) noticed that the driver appeared to be unconscious with head bobbing side to side. (The) car was going about 5-7 mph. They turned, stopped their car and ran up to the vehicle that was now drifting over to the yellow line in oncoming traffic. Dan ran up to the car and crawled into the passenger side window and then shut off the ignition. Ben stopped the oncoming traffic. Intersection had both four and six lanes of traffic.

"... After securing the scene, Ben and another person gently took the victim out of her car and immediately began first aid procedures and yelled for someone to call 911. Dan checked for pulse. Ben checked for breathing, turned her over to prevent choking, cushioned her head, covered her for privacy and to prevent shock. They then monitored vitals and assured her until emergency personnel were on scene. She was transported by ambulance."

Kenneth Toole, Pine Tree District of the Boy Scouts of America executive, said the Life Saving Medal of Honor is a rare achievement. He said about 5 percent of Scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank and less than 1 percent of Scouts earn a lifesaving award.

"Ben is a rare scout to have earned both," Toole said in an emailed statement to the Dispatch.

"The Boy Scout motto is, 'Be Prepared.' We teach our Scouts things like first aid so they can help others or take care of themselves in the event of an emergency. I am very proud of Ben and Dan for having the courage to act when they saw someone else in danger and in need."

Loren Meinke, recognition chairman for the Pine Tree District, which covers central Minnesota, noted Soukup's lifesaving effort came to light in September when Soukup received his Eagle Scout rank. A committee was formed to determine if Soukup should be honored for his efforts, and during that time Soukup told the committee the rescue would not have been possible without Lambie. His recommendation for the honor was by unanimous vote.

In her victim statement, Wallerus said, "I don't remember much from the day of the accident, but I do know this: It takes a lot of courage, love, and kindness to risk your life to save someone else. Both Dan and Ben got out of their car to help me in my car while I was unconscious. I am eternally grateful for these two men. I wish I could meet them and thank them."

On Saturday, Wallerus was on hand to personally present the awards to Soukup and Lambie. Rep. Josh Heintzeman also attended to offer special recognition to Soukup and Lambie.

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