ST. ANTHONY — A former NFL player from St. Anthony is being awarded the highest honor for civilian heroism after saving a man in a fiery crash last year.
Brandon Bair, 36, is one of 16 people named as Carnegie heroes by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who enter extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.
Bair was driving to work at Henry’s Fork Homes on US Highway 20 in May 2021 when he saw a train hit a semitruck in St. Anthony. There was an explosion and the train began pushing the truck down the tracks.
“I got on the phone with 911 and started driving down the median to get to the front of the train when it stopped,” Bair told EastIdahoNews.com at the time.
The South Fremont High School graduate, who played for the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles before retiring in 2016, ran across the highway as the conductors were getting out of the train. Smoke filled the air, and flames covered the front of the train and the semi.
Steven Jenson, 25, was pinned inside the driver’s seat, unable to move. Bair heard Jenson’s voice so he ran up to the truck but the only accessible way to get to Jenson was a small rear window between the passenger and driver’s seat.
“I ran up to the window and saw dripping hot flames all over inside of the truck. I could see a guy in a seatbelt and was able to reach in and get it off of him. He was talking, and I told him we had to get out of here now,” Bair recalled.
Even though the seatbelt was off, Jenson was still pinned inside the cab. Bair climbed halfway in as the two worked together to break the steering wheel and other equipment. The 6’6″, 260-pound football player then pulled Jenson out the “teeny window.”
“We walked away, and within seconds, the fire on the roof fell down inside, and the whole seat and cab went up in flames. A few minutes later, there were a couple big booms and explosives,” Bair said.
Bair stayed with Jenson until emergency responders arrived. Jenson was airlifted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and eventually released.
The Carnegie Medal has been awarded to 10,307 people since the inception of the Pittsburgh-based Fund in 1904. Each of the recipients or their survivors receive a financial grant.
This is the second recipient from eastern Idaho in recent years. An Arimo teenager who drowned saving his girlfriend while swimming in 2018 was honored with a Carnegie Medal two years ago.