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Carnegie Hero Medal Presented To Vermonter At Statehouse

The Carnegie medal for heroism was formally presented to a Vermont prosecutor on Monday.  He was honored for trying to save the life of an employee of the Vermont Department of Children and Families who was shot and killed in the department’s parking lot in August 2015.  The ceremony stirred up complicated memories.
Washington County State’s Attorney Scott Williams is one of 25 people being honored this year with medals and cash awards by the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. He is credited with trying to save Lara Sobel, a DCF employee who police say was killed by Jody Herring in Barre in August 2015.  Williams was inside when he heard Herring shoot Sobel. He ran outside, distracted Herring, grabbed and disabled her hunting rifle and stayed between the two women. As soon as others arrived and restrained Herring, Williams provided aid to Sobel, but her wounds were fatal.  

Congressman Peter Welch noted the poignancy of presenting the medal.   “This is a combination of a sad day of remembrance for the loss of life of a wonderful Vermont state worker – Lara Sobel.  And we all continue to feel the enormous pain of her loss of life in service of children in the state of Vermont.  But it was also a moment when one of our citizens, Scott Williams, in an act of bravery did his best at great peril to himself to try to mitigate the situation and save life. And that’s why we’re all here.”

Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon told Williams he did what many people could not do.   “It’s important to me that I say this to you, Scott.  It’s something I’ve thought about but I’ve never said it to you.  While your actions in terms of running towards tragedy and disarming the suspect was certainly heroic what was even more heroic to me is what you did for Lara.  Because of your actions that day the last voice Lara heard was a familiar reassuring voice and the last touch she felt was a loving and kind touch.  Scott, you’re a good man.”

The Carnegie medal is given to people in the U.S. and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.  Williams still struggles with the memories of that day and tears were visible as people spoke of the events that led to his receiving the medal.  He hopes that the medal has meaning for the greater community.   “Am I honored and flattered? Yes I am.  But I really do feel this was a tough event for the community. You know and we didn’t even talk about the other three women that were killed. Jody allegedly killed three of her family members too.  So the amount of grief that exists in Washington County is palpable. So I hope that this ceremony, and people seeing that this happened, gives some folks at least some closure maybe and positive feeling out of what happened even though that was as, excuse my language, as crappy a day as you could probably have. I tried and I tried pretty hard. And it didn’t work out the way I would have preferred.”

Williams plans to display the Carnegie medal in his office.

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