John Prokop said his Carnegie Medal for heroism will be publicly displayed in his pool hall, James Street Billiards in Duncan, as an inspiration for others to help people when in need.
Prokop was presented with his Carnegie Medal, which recognizes outstanding acts of selfless heroism, by North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring at Wednesday’s council meeting, and choked up when he recounted the incident in Duncan on July 8, 2016, when he stepped in to help RCMP Const. Matt Baines who was being assaulted by a man he was trying to apprehend.
“I knew someone had to help him,” Prokop said as he recalled many other people just standing around watching and taking videos of the fight.
“I didn’t know what I was getting involved with, but I jumped in and did what I could. This is a once in a lifetime achievement and I’m proud to receive it. My son T.J. and my father Morris are here today and I’d like to say that this is who we are; it runs through our bloodline.”
Prokop, 49, is just one of two Canadians to be awarded a prestigious Carnegie Medal for heroism in 2018, as well as one of only 1,000 Canadians who have received the medal from the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission since it was first introduced in 1904.
Prokop said he didn’t even know what a Carnegie Medal was before he found out he was to be awarded one.
“I don’t even know who nominated me,” he said as council members and Baines applauded him.
“The RCMP do an outstanding job in this community and that’s not recognized enough. This medal is as much Matt Baines’s as it is mine. I hope this inspires people to do good things for others because there’s not enough of that out there.”
Siebring said it was a privilege to present Prokop with his medal.
“I’m honoured and proud to have a hero like John Prokop in the community, and in the room with us right now,” he said.