A 21-year-old Virginia mother who died of burns after dramatically rescuing three of her four children from their burning home last year was among 22 persons named as heroes yesterday by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in Pittsburgh.
Each of those cited or their survivors will receive $2,500 and the Carnegie Medal. The commission said six of the 22 died while saving or trying to save a victim.
The commission said Shirley Ann Norman of Suffolk carried her infant twins downstairs to safety after a neighbor alerted her to the fire about 8 a.m. Sept. 7, 1984. She then ran back upstairs through heavy smoke and fire to try to rescue her other two children.
Trapped by the flames, Norman jumped to the ground through a broken second-story window with her 2-year-old son Barry in her arms. The fourth child, Stanley, 4, later was found dead by firefighters at the head of the stairs.
Shirley Norman suffered severe burns over 75 percent of her body and multiple injuries from her leap out the window and died five days later in a Norfolk hospital. Barry had second- and third-degree burns on his legs, but recovered.
"He's just fine," a relative said yesterday. The children live with their grandmother, Clarine Ann Norman, in Suffolk. "I almost had a heart attack" when the Carnegie check arrived Friday, Clarine Norman said.
Suffolk Fire Marshal H.R. Parker said the fire started in a kerosene heater at the bottom of the stairwell near the front door. "Flames shot right up the stairwell," Parker was quoted as telling The Virginian-Pilot. "With the front door open and the heater right there, you had a chimney effect."
Norman was the only person from this area on yesterday's list, which included six Canadians.
Walter Rutkowski, assistant secretary of the 81-year-old Carnegie commission, said the group receives about 700 nominations annually and makes about 100 awards a year.