Elderly Woman Who Died Defending Friend From Sexual Assault Awarded Carnegie Hero Medal

Fusako Petrus

Fusako M. Petrus, an 86-year-old resident of North Highlands, California who died while protecting her friend from sexual assault, is one of the 17 recipients of the Carnegie Medal.

The award: Petrus was named a Carnegie hero in the list released by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission last Tuesday.

  • Each of the 17 recipients and their survivors will receive the Carnegie Medal as well as a financial grant, Commission Chair Mark Laskow said.
  • The Carnegie Medal is the highest honor for civilian heroism in the United States and Canada, which is given to those who put their lives in danger to save or attempt to save others from life-threatening events.

  • The 86-year-old woman, who is the oldest person to ever receive the medal in the commission’s 106 years of history, saved her friend from being sexually assaulted while walking on the Highland Highschool Track in April 2017. It happened on the track Petrus and her friends have walked on for 50 years.
  • The suspect, Neven Butler, turned his attention to Petrus and beat her to death while her 61-year-old friend ran to ask for help.
  • Butler was later arrested and did not receive the death penalty later that year.

Who is Fusako Petrus: Petrus, who was born in Kyoto, Japan, on Sept. 7, 1930, worked a job at the base exchange (BX) in Tachikawa in the ‘60s, according to Legacy.

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  • She met her husband Alfred “Pete” Petrus there, they got married in 1962 and moved to North Highlands two years later. She received her U.S. Citizenship in 1985.
  • Petrus “was a steadfast friend who developed her extended United States family, which included other Japanese women who had married servicemen, as well as her coworkers and neighbors.”
  • Her walking activities began in the ‘70s when she started strolling along with the neighbors at the local high school track. They became a tight-knit diverse group.
  • Petrus is survived by a niece who lives in Osaka, Japan, and had her service at the North Highlands Park & Recreation Community Center on June 3, 2017.
  • She was laid to rest in the Sierra Hills Memorial Park, as listed on Tribute Archives.

Featured Image via Sacramento Bee (left), CBS Sacramento (right)

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