East County girl who died saving 2-year-old named Carnegie Hero

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LAKESIDE, Calif. – A 10-year-old girl who died this year when she was hit by a car after pushing a toddler to safety was one of 21 people honored with Carnegie medals for heroism Tuesday.

Kiera Vera Larsen died Feb. 22 when she pushed 2-year-old Emma Guisich out of the path of a parked 1999 Mercedes-Benz sedan that began rolling down a sloping driveway off Olde Highway 80 near Los Coches Road.

“She is truly a hero. She will forever be my kids’ guardian angel,” Alissa Jenkins, mother of the child Kiera saved, said at the time.

Larsen was hit by the car and died later at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced in Pittsburgh Tuesday that Larsen was one of this year's winners. The commission, named for steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, awards medals and cash to people in the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The medal will be presented to Larsen's family sometime next year, according to a spokesman for the commission.

The commission released a statement to FOX 5, which read in part:

“In the case of Kiera Larsen, we are all the more humbled by such a young person’s capacity to selflessly disregard her own safety to save the life of another child. Her sacrifice both breaks our hearts and raises us up. She represents the essence of the award and the ideals that its creator, Andrew Carnegie, sought to recognize.”

Cherise Larsen, Kiera's stepmother who helped Kiera's dad raise her since age two, said she couldn’t be prouder of Kiera’s achievement. She said Kiera had an old soul with a motherly instinct, which is reflected in the sacrifice she made at that moment.

“It comes with a range of emotions you’re so happy that she won this, but it brings back memories that she’s gone and the reason that she did this,” Larsen said. “She is one of the youngest that has ever received it there is only very few that have been the age of 10 and younger to have received it and that right there speaks for itself."


Emmah has not forgotten her friend Kiera, nor has Emmah’s little sister and father Jonathan Gusich.

Larsen says it’s been a difficult year, but this medal of heroism is the best Christmas present they could have received for their now guardian angel.

“She didn’t need it to be a hero but now, it’s a really outstanding accomplishment for her as well as our family,” said Larsen.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission is expected to give the award to the family in the spring of 2017.

A GoFundMe account that was set up after the accident to raise $30,000 for the family's funeral expenses raised more than three times that amount in just six days.

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