On a chilly Sunday afternoon in January 2012, Nicole Bunting went for a jog. Her route took her through Fairview Heights, Illinois’ Moody Park, where the elementary school teacher became a hero.
At the Kiwanis International convention in Vancouver, British Columbia, this past June, Kiwanis International Foundation President Peter Mancuso recognized Bunting as a Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism for her life-saving actions that day.
“There’s a woman in the lake yelling for help!” another runner, James Brown, called out as he caught up with Bunting. Brown could not swim but used her phone to call for police and an ambulance.
Kicking off her shoes, Bunting dove into the frigid water, swam about 60 feet, grabbed the woman’s shirt and kicked toward shore.
A Fairview Heights Police Department news release describes the scene:
“When the first officer arrived, he saw Nicole Bunting … and James Brown … attempting to pull a 50-year-female from Belleville out of the lake,” the police report states. “The officer assisted, and the female was safely pulled to the shoreline. First aid was provided to the victim until the arrival of emergency medical services.
“The victim was unconscious but started breathing soon after being brought on shore. She was transported to Memorial Hospital where she received medical treatment and was later released.”
Bunting was nominated for the medal by the Kiwanis Club of Fairview Heights.