$2,500 Award : Car Mechanic Named a Hero by Carnegie

Times Staff Writer

A La Habra auto mechanic was honored Wednesday by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission for helping free a man trapped in a burning car.

Ken L. Jenkins, 31, was one of 20 people in the United States and Canada to be declared heroes by the commission, which has been recognizing people for performing heroic deeds since 1904.

Jenkins received a check for $2,500 and will receive a medal for his heroism in rescuing Gary S. Franklin, 37, of Livermore in March.

Franklin’s car overturned after it was hit by a large truck on Interstate 580 in Dublin, west of Livermore. Jenkins, who moved to La Habra in June, was living in Livermore at the time. He helped free Franklin by using a pocket knife to cut the man’s seat belt. Two other people aided in the rescue and one, John P. Goucher of Oakdale, also received a Carnegie award.


“I still feel like I’m nobody special,” Jenkins said. “I just wish that more people would help out.” He shrugged off his actions during an interview Wednesday, saying he has already received more awards than he needs.

But he added that he can definitely use the money.

Jenkins said he acted instinctively, hoping he would make it out alive.

His actions have been recognized by Gov. George Deukmejian, several Northern California cities, the California Highway Patrol and others, Jenkins said. He’s received about eight medals and plaques so far.


“My wife likes (the awards) more than I do. She has them all hanging up on the wall,” Jenkins said.

Laurie Jenkins, 36, a nurse, said she is proud of her husband. “This is like a blessing. The money came just when we needed it.”

She said the move to La Habra cost about $3,000 and the award money will help them pay bills and buy Christmas gifts for their daughters, Christy, 10, and Jennifer, 5.

Franklin, who is still recovering from burns and other injuries related to the accident, said he is ecstatic to hear that Jenkins received the award.


“That makes my Christmas,” Franklin said Wednesday from his home in Livermore. “If it wasn’t for those three guys, I wouldn’t be alive.”