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Friday, September 1, 2017

Fort Thomas Teen Recognized For Act Of Bravery

Greg Schwartz (Carlee's father), Carlee Schwartz and Gene Blanchet
This past weekend, Gene Blanchet, Governor of the Kentucky/West Virginia District Optimist Club recognized an act of heroism by Fort Thomas teen, Carlee Schwartz.

Schwartz, 17, a junior at Highlands was beginning her work day as a busser at Fort Thomas Pizza on August 18th. She was filling up ice buckets when she noticed, through the window, a two-year old boy walking alone across the street.

As he approached the sidewalk to push the crossing button, she noticed he was, in fact, alone.

Without hesitation, Schwartz dropped what she was doing and ran out into traffic. It was rush hour so she tried frantically to stop oncoming cars.

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"I think it was so innate because I have a nephew a little older and that was who was in my head. This is someone's nephew or son or brother that they play with and read too. A car finally stopped, and I ran to him trying to get his attention, but I scared him instead, and he began to run, Schwartz said.

She said she then stopped because she thought if she chased after him and scared him then he'd be in the road before she could get to him. It was her quick thinking that allowed her to reach him before that could have happened.

"I tried to ask his name but couldn't understand him, and he didn't really understand what was happening either. I realized what I did and then immediately began to panic because I didn't know what to do with a two-year-old whose parents were probably worried. I just sweep and fill up ice buckets. I'm not a mom or anything," she added.

With the help of co-worker, Alex Siska, also a mother of a two-year-old daughter, they were able to calm the boy and call authorities.

"Alex was amazing. She took the reigns and knew exactly what to do and how to relax him. She helped me when we were both asked questions by the officer and gladly saw the guardian take the child home. In the end, that was what we all wanted - for him to be safe at home," Schwartz said.

The parents of the boy who they say likes to play hide-and-seek said he was able to unlatch a screen door, and they thought he was hiding. They came to thank everyone and were extremely grateful.

"I think it was just one of those moments where their back was turned for a split second. It can happen to anyone," Schwartz said.

Blanchet who has been a member of the Optimist Club since 1977 heard about what happened and thought it was fitting to recognize Schwartz' bravery.

The Optimist Club has long supported youth programs, and their slogan is "bringing out the best in kids."

In the middle of her shift this past Saturday, Blanchet presented Schwartz with a plaque and a touching speech about her courageous act.

Gene Blanchet presents Carlee Schwartz with a plaque from the Optimist Club. FTM file
"Optimist is about kids, said Blanchet. Carlee is a kid helping a kid and what she did was fantastic. In my opinion, she saved a life."

Schwartz said she was shocked because she didn't think of it as heroic.

Marla Schwartz, Carlee's mother said, "Carlee has always been a very sweet, thoughtful and giving child. She takes special interest in looking out for children of all ages and is interested in studying child psychology and then possibly law school as a child advocate.
Schwartz' plaque reads "In recognition For Your Quick Action Heroism In Saving A Life Of A Child. Presented By Governor Gene Blanchet Kentucky/West Virginia District Optimist International" FTM file

Did this surprise me that Carlee was intuitive enough to do this?  No. 

Running out into a busy street at rush hour scared the heck out of me, and that was an act of heroism. In my line of work as a nurse people sometimes say, 'I don't know how you do what you do.' I tell them we are humans serving humans and no one is perfect; we just try our best to take care of the people we service. Carlee was selfless in crossing that street to get that baby. And, I am very proud and grateful to Gene Blanchet and Ft. Thomas Pizza for recognizing her heroism."

Way to go, Carlee!

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