Coalville hero will get Red Cross award |

Coalville hero will get Red Cross award

He saved a woman from getting hit by a car

Keenan Pearson, left, lost his right leg after pushing a woman away from an out-of-control car. He says his wife, Rebecka, right, has been a big support since the October accident.
Courtesy of Keenan Pearson

Keenan Pearson is credited with saving a woman’s life, but he would never call himself a hero. He prefers to give others that honor.

In October, the Coalville resident was driving on Interstate 80 near Parley’s Canyon when his car struck another vehicle that had crashed into a concrete barrier moments before.

When Pearson and the other car’s passenger — a 57-year-old woman from California — were attempting to move her vehicle away from oncoming traffic, another car came zooming toward them. Pearson’s reflex was to push the woman out of the way. He was immediately hit by the vehicle, leaving the Californian unhurt and him with significant leg injuries.

“I think a lot of people would have done the same thing,” Pearson said. “I think most people would have pushed someone out of the way if they were ever in that situation.”

Pearson’s right leg was amputated and he underwent several more surgeries to save his left leg. He said his time in the hospital and his recovery at home made him recognize the world is full of heroes, although he would never admit he’s one of them.

“If I were to tell you the story of what happened and recognize someone for being a hero, it wouldn’t be me,” Pearson said. “It would be the people who came out of the woodwork and helped my family figure out our lives.”

While Pearson doesn’t feel he should be recognized for his act of bravery, people at Utah Red Cross disagree. Each year, the nonprofit hosts a luncheon that recognizes those who have demonstrated courage and kindness.

The Everyday Heroes event will give Pearson the Red Cross Good Samaritan award at the luncheon, which will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 10, at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. Individual tickets for the event are $100.

“Every year, the Red Cross has what we call a heroes recognition event,” said Rich Woodruff, the nonprofit’s director of communications. “What we do throughout the year is we look for stories in different categories, like first responder or good Samaritan. This year, one of the stories that surfaced from Summit County was about Keenan.”

Pearson, who turned 28 while he was recovering at the University of Utah Hospital, feels somewhat uncomfortable receiving the award.

“I’m a slightly socially awkward person, so it does feel uncomfortable,” Pearson said. “My wife, Rebecka, and I are hoping we can make a positive impact with this.”

Pearson wants to encourage those who attend the event, and anyone else, to make the effort to reach out to others. He said the smallest act of kindness can make a big difference.

It did for him.

The accident changed Pearson’s life, but neighbors bringing him food and the donations friends and family gave to support his family has made the transition easier, he said.

“Before the accident, I was working as a restaurant manager in Salt Lake,” Pearson said. “Now my life is along the lines of going to physical therapy three days a week and doing what I can to try to help me function in the everyday sense. Any extra help we get is beyond appreciated.”

Pearson said he is now able to stand on his left leg for a short period of time. And in addition to giving hero status to his friends, family and neighbors, he also thinks his physical therapists deserve credit.

“Physical therapists really are incredible people,” he said. “It takes a special person to be able to push people to the point where they really don’t like you in order to help them.”

The Red Cross Everyday Heroes luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Little America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. It costs $100 to attend. Keenan Pearson will receive the Good Samaritan Award, while other Utahns will be honored for military service, volunteer work, education efforts and more.

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