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AAA Honors Eight Safety Patrollers Who Saved Fellow Students' Lives.

Business Editors/Education Writers

ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 13, 2004

AAA awards its highest national safety honor - "The Lifesaving Medal Award" - to eight school safety patrollers whose heroic, split-second decisions saved their school mates from life-threatening danger. This marks AAA's 55th consecutive year honoring children across the United States who save lives as part of AAA's signature pedestrian safety program.

According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,672 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2003 - a decrease of 17 percent from the 5,649 pedestrians killed in 1993. The national pedestrian death rate per 100,000 for children aged 5-14 has fallen by 93 percent since 1935, the first year records were kept. AAA safety experts credit the 84-year-old School Safety Patrol Program with making a strong contribution to this significant improvement.

"On behalf of the 500,000 children nationwide who are school safety patrollers, I am pleased to present these individuals with the Lifesaving Medal," said Marshall Doney, vice president, AAA Automotive. "This award recognizes their remarkable courage and dedication to making our schools and roads safe for all students."

Two of the honorees, Andrew Deem, age 11, and John Hickey, age 10, from Bristow Run Elementary in Bristow, Va., are shining examples of safety patrollers' courage and dedication. On the afternoon of October 14, 2003, Andrew saw a two-year-old boy and his mother pushing a stroller with the boy's younger brother inside. When the boy suddenly ran from his mother into the busy street, Andrew grabbed the toddler while stopping the mother from running out into the street after her child. John, meanwhile, was at his patrol station and witnessed the event with Andrew. When the mother ran after her toddler, the stroller that she left behind with the younger brother began rolling into the street. John ran after the stroller, stopping it just as an SUV grazed his foot.

Other Lifesavers have similarly heroic stories:

-- Shawn Rooney, a 13-year-old boy from St. Joseph's School in

Centereach, N.Y., was on patrol on the afternoon of November

18, 2003 when a nine-year-old boy ran out into the street to

catch up with his class. Shawn grabbed the boy by his backpack

and pulled him back from an approaching mini school bus.

-- Josh Wampler, an 11-year-old boy from Weems Elementary School

in Manassas, Va., was approaching his bus stop when he heard a

lady screaming to a young boy standing in the middle of the

street. Josh ran to the boy in the middle of the street,

prompting the driver of an approaching car to screech to a

halt when seeing the patroller and child together.

-- Martay Gunnier of Harrah Elementary School in Harrah, Wash.

saved the life of a seven-year-old who ran out into the street

without stopping to wait for a clear crossing. Martay pulled

him out of the way of two oncoming vehicles.

-- Vincent Verardo, a ten-year-old boy at Epiphany Catholic

School in Culpeper, Va., stopped a four-year-old boy from

running out in front of a car leaving its parking space. The

driver later said that they would not have seen the child

without Vinny's quick action.

-- Michael Chobanian, a 13-year-old boy from James Fenimore

Cooper Elementary in Milwaukee, Wis. warned a seven-year-old

girl not to cross just as she darted out into the street. As a

car pulled away from the curb and approached quickly, Michael

grabbed the child and pulled her from its path.

-- Robert H. Clement, a 10-year-old boy from Pfeiffer Elementary

in Akron, Ohio, was at his post when a two-year-old boy

slipped away from his mother and ran out into the street.

Robert immediately ran into the street, scooping up the boy

and returning to safety while only narrowly escaping oncoming

traffic by an estimated margin of four feet.

"The stories are amazing, but more importantly, so are the safety patrollers," said Doney. "They are heroes in every sense of the word."

AAA started the national school safety patrol in 1920. Today, the AAA School Safety Patrol is an organization of 500,000 boys and girls nationwide in 50,000 schools. Many famous Americans have been safety patrollers, including former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Senator John Warner of Virginia, three current members of the U.S. Supreme Court, 21 astronauts and six Olympic gold medalists. The program has a long history of helping young people become leaders by teaching discipline, responsibility, and concern for others.

As the nation's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its 47 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safety and security of all travelers.

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:May 13, 2004
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