DURHAM, NC – Josh Meltzer, a photojournalism instructor at Western Kentucky University, has been presented with NPPA's Humanitarian Award for his heroic actions that saved the lives of two women and a pre-teen girl who were caught by strong rip tides in Lake Superior in Duluth, MN.
"Whenever someone steps-up and makes a difference they are honored by their community, whether it be the one in which the live or a wider one in which they work. Josh has been honored often for his work as a visual journalist, and now is the time to honor his humanity," NPPA president Sean D. Elliot said today.
"It is my honor and privilege to give Josh this award to see that he is recognized by his professional community for actions."
A former Duluth News Tribune photographer who is visiting Minnesota with his family for the holiday, Meltzer was at the beach with his wife and young son on Monday when he saw a young woman jump up and bolt into the water. He saw that she was swimming out to help another woman and a young girl who were in distress after being overcome by the lake's strong current. But the woman who was trying to help them was also quickly rendered helpless by the tide.
The News Tribune reports Meltzer, a former swim team captain, dove in and brought the girl to safety and then he returned to the water to rescue the child, who was going under and could no longer stay afloat. As Meltzer was bringing the child to shore, another man joined in the rescue and swam out to the remaining adult woman. He had the woman about half-way to shore when Meltzer return to their aid, this time bringing with him a floatation device.
Rescue workers treated all three on shore, and one of the adult women was taken to hospital for additional treatment before she was released.
Meltzer as taught at WKU since 2009. Before that he was a staff photographer at The Roanoke Times, and in 2008 was a Fulbright Scholarship winner teaching in Guadalajara, Mexico.
NPPA's Humanitarian Award recognizes individuals for playing a key role in saving the lives of others or participating in rescue situations. It was first awarded in 1985, and it is presented when deemed appropriate by NPPA's president. Past honorees include John David Mercer and Swikar Patel in 2011, and Kim Komenich in 2010.