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Fairfield resident and brother receive Carnegie Medal for act of extraordinary heroism

The Carnegie Medal is North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism, risking their lives for others in peril.
Credit: Fairfield Police
Carnegie Medal for an act of extraordinary heroism


In December 2019, Jonathan Goldfarb and Matthew Goldfarb risked their lives to save a stranger. Now, the two men are being recognized for their outstanding heroism. 

The afternoon of December 22, 2019, the Fairfield Emergency Communications Center received a 911 phone call. A man had attempted to rescue his dog and was in distress in the waters of Lake Mohegan. 

The male had been walking his dog with his girlfriend when the dog ran onto the ice and fell into the water. The male then ran into the Lake to rescue the dog, but he became submerged multiple times and was having difficulty getting back to shore due to the extreme cold. 

In open water, about 100 feet from shore, he and his dog struggled to stay above the water. 

The man's girlfriend began to yell for help and entered the water, attempting to assist him.  

At this moment, Jonathan Goldfarb, a physical therapist who resides in Fairfield, and his brother Matthew Goldfarb, a teacher who was visiting his brother from Howell, New Jersey were walking with family in the area and heard the cries for help.  

They ran to the area and found the man in distress in the water.  

The Goldfarbs both entered the water without hesitation, knowing their own safety and lives were at risk.

RELATED: 40 people rescued by Coast Guard in Gloucester, Mass.

They grasped the man and his dog and were able to pull them to safety onto dry land.  

Police reported that the man had been in the freezing water, submerged at times, for about 10 minutes. The brothers were only in the water for four. 

Fairfield Police and Fire Department personnel responded and located the rescued man, who was exhibiting signs of severe hypothermia. He was then transported to an area hospital and recovered. 

 The Goldfarb brothers were also treated at an area hospital and recovered. 

On Wednesday, the brothers were awarded the Carnegie Medal to commend their bravery. It was presented by First Selectwoman Brenda L. Kupchick and members of the Fairfield Police Department in a ceremony at Fairfield Police Headquarters. 

“The actions of both Jonathan and Matthew Goldfarb represent an outstanding act of heroism. The brave actions of these men, who risked their own lives, were most deserving of recognition,” Police Chief Robert Kalamaras said in a statement. “As a result, the Fairfield Police Department nominated them for the Carnegie Medal which is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who enter mortal danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The Fairfield Police Department congratulates Jonathan and Matthew Goldfarb and extends its thanks and appreciation for their heroism.” 

RELATED: Idaho man who drowned saving children in the Salmon River honored for heroism

The Carnegie Medal is North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism, risking their lives for others in peril. 

“I commend the Goldfarb brothers for their bravery and selfless act of courage that saved the life of a man and his dog at Lake Mohegan. These heroes are very deserving of this high honor and have made our community very proud. I also want to thank our Police Department for nominating the Goldfarbs for the Carnegie Medal in recognition of these two outstanding individuals who are a positive and inspiring example to others,” First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said. 

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced on March 24, 2021, the that 18 individuals, including Jonathan L. Goldfarb and Matthew Goldfarb, were to receive the Medal. Since 1904, the commission has awarded 10,220 Carnegie Medals and more than $42 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance. 


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