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Louisville man posthumously awarded Carnegie Medal after attempting to save 18-year-old

Terrance Dea jumped into Fort Loudoun Lake in an attempt to save Emma Fila.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — A Louisville man who died while trying to save an 18-year-old in 2021 was awarded North America's highest honor for civilian heroism—a Carnegie Medal. 

Terrance Dea, a 70-year-old retired sales manager, drowned on June 5, 2021, while attempting to rescue 18-year-old Emma Fila.

Fila was on a jetski when she hit a concrete bridge support and was thrown from her jet ski on Fort Loudoun Lake. She was knocked unconscious. 

Dea was driving a pontoon boat when he saw Fila facedown in the water. He jumped into the water to rescue her, but then experience a medical emergency himself. 

People on another boat pulled both Dea and Fila out of the water and began CPR, however, neither survived. 

The Carnegie Hero Fund recognizes 15 civilians who risked serious injury or death to save others. Each of the recipients or their survivors will receive a financial grant. 

Fila's family is carrying on her legacy through the Emma Fila Foundation. The foundation, which focuses on students who have lost a loved one, awards scholarships in Fila's memory. 

The scholarships will be awarded Sunday, April 1, 2023. 

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