The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission has honored a Central Florida man who drowned while trying to save two people from drowning in Lake Weir in 2011.
Kenneth Stephens Sr., 55, of Dunnellon died while trying to rescue his sister-in-law and niece who began to struggle while swimming in Lake Weir during a family outing in June 2011.
The Pittsburgh-based Fund presented Stephens' family with the Carnegie medal and a $5,000 financial grant to commemorate his sacrifice as a hero, said Doug Chambers, a Fund spokesman.
In June 2011, Stephens was boating with extended family members for an outing meant to memorialize his son, who died in a mining accident six months earlier.
His niece, 8-year-old Priscilla DeLira, was swimming with his sister-in-law, Pauline Yambao, about 10 feet from the boat when they began to struggle. Yamboa grabbed onto DeLira's life jacket and they started to sink.
Stephens jumped in and saved DeLira. But when he went back to help Yambao, both of them disappeared beneath the surface.
Marion County Sheriff's divers recovered their bodies a day later about 500 yards from where the boat was anchored.
Since 1904, the Carnegie Fund has awarded a medal four times a year to people in the United States and Canada who risked their lives to save others.