Utah brothers win national award for helping victims of plane crash

Lyle and Brad Berglund acted immediately when they saw a small aircraft go down in Centerville.

(Photo courtesy of the Davis County Sheriff's Office) Lyle and Brad Berglund are shown at a news conference last summer at the Intermountain Healthcare hangar. The two brothers were awarded the 2021 Carnegie Medal for pulling two people from a plane crash in 2020.

Utah brothers Lyle and Brad Berglund didn’t hesitate when they saw a plane crash into a field last summer in Centerville. The pair pulled their car off the road and ran to pull the occupants out of the plane, suffering minor burns in the process.

Now, the brothers are among 18 people across the country who were given the 2021 Carnegie Medal on Thursday. The medals are awarded by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission to individuals who “perform acts of heroism in civilian life.”

Unfortunately, the plane’s occupants did not survive. The owner and pilot of the “experimental” plane, Andre Kostrzewa, died after he was transported to a hospital. Lt. Jason Sorensen, 47, a retired deputy and paramedic for Davis County, was critically injured in the crash and died five days later.

The emotional fallout of the crash was difficult for Lyle Berglund. He spoke about the mental trauma of the ordeal in June. On Thursday, he told The Salt Lake Tribune that while he is completely healed physically, the memory of what happened is still sensitive. But he said he is healing mentally and has learned to appreciate all the little things in life because life is so fragile.

Berglund said he feels honored and humbled to have won the award.

“After I found out we were nominated, I did some research on the Carnegie Hero Fund and ... you see stories of people who have risked their lives and done some pretty amazing things,” he said. “We just did what I felt like anyone would do.”

The Davis County Sheriff’s Office thanked the Berglunds on Twitter for their efforts to save Kostrzewa and Sorensen.

In addition to the brothers, Norman Tanner Olsen of Salt Lake City was awarded a medal for saving a man at a campground near Kamas. The man had spilled gasoline on himself while trying to start a fire and accidentally set himself alight. Olsen tackled the man to the ground and used his own body to help smother the flames, according to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Both men were treated for severe burns.