And the Winners are …

July 16, 2020

COVID-19 couldn’t stop FirstEnergy from honoring the heroes among us.

CEO Chuck Jones hosted a virtual presentation of the FirstEnergy Hero Awards on July 14. Sixteen people were recognized for their selfless acts of courage and compassion in coming to the assistance of an injured or at-risk person.

“What makes this night special is you – and what you did to help save a life or to prevent further injury,” Chuck told the recipients via Microsoft Teams. “These unbelievable acts really show the type of people we have here at FirstEnergy. Each of you showed the situational awareness to realize that something wasn’t right. And then you had the courage to engage and do something about it. We want to thank you for the heroism that you showed.”

Steve Strah, FirstEnergy president, and Sam Belcher, senior vice president and FirstEnergy Utilities president, also recognized the recipients.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, Chuck Jones (upper left corner) hosted a virtual Hero Award ceremony via Microsoft Teams.

The FirstEnergy Hero Awards program was introduced in 2015 to honor employees who make our company – and the communities we serve – a better place to live and work because they took the time to care. A selection committee representing business units across the company reviews nominations and recommends a slate of nominees to Chuck for final approval of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Honorable Mention award recipients.

Here is our new class of Hero Award winners:

Gold Winner

Craig A. Montagner

Underground Electrician C, Midtown Service Center

The Illuminating Company (CEI)

While staying in a hotel in Cincinnati with his family, Craig rescued a small child who nearly drowned in a swimming pool. When the child was pulled from the water, he was not breathing, nor did he have a pulse. Craig took control of the situation – performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and eventually restoring the boys breathing.

As our gold winner, Craig received a $1,000 contribution to his charity of choice from the FirstEnergy Foundation. He selected St. Joseph’s Home in Cincinnati. His nephew is a resident there and receives around-the-clock medical care for his special needs.

Gold winner Craig Montagner reunited with Jaymere Turner – the child he saved – and his father, Richard, in this June 2019 photo. Back row (l. to r.), Richard Turner, Craig Montagner and Craig’s son, Gavin; front row, Jaymere (at right) and his brother.

Silver Winner

Jack D. Clark

Garage Mechanic, Mansfield Service Building

Ohio Edison

While on the way to a service call, Jack was stopped by a woman who frantically explained that her son and another boy were in danger in the rain-swollen river below. Jack flagged down a tree crew and grabbed two ropes out of his truck. The boys, ages 11 and 12, were in kayaks, with a strong current attempting to pull them under a log. The team used the ropes to pull the boys to safety.

Bronze Winners

James J. Tanno

Senior Safety Representative, Mayfield Service Center

Toledo Edison and CEI

Joe Widecan

Distribution Technician III, Middlefield Service Center


Jim and Joe performed CPR and utilized an automated external defibrillator on a co-worker who had a cardiac arrest in the Middlefield Line shop. They followed training procedures until emergency medical personnel arrived and relieved them. As a result, the employee was revived and consequently underwent successful by-pass surgery.

Honorable Mention

Gary L. Hostetter, Lead Lineworker

Jesse Martin, Serviceworker A

Cody Wisner, Troubleman

Cory Yates, Serviceworker A

Ethan Boone, Serviceworker C

Fairlea Service Center

Mon Power

While responding to a trouble call, two Fairlea crew members discovered a person trapped inside a vehicle that went off the road and down a steep embankment. After making the initial assessment, the employees called 911 and alerted other members of their trouble crew. With the help of the Mon Power employees, the victim was safely removed from the vehicle, taken to the top of the hill, transported to a local hospital and later life-flighted to another facility.

Honorable Mention

Randy S. Jones, Staff Scientist

Connellsville West Side

William “Kevin” Lesnock, Lab Attendant

Washington Service Center

Patrick S. Mullen, Senior Generation Specialist

Fort Martin Power Station

Randy, Kevin and Bill teamed up to rescue a woman stuck in a drainpipe connected to a concrete vault at Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Masontown, Pa. Kevin was preparing to conduct a water test when he heard what he thought was a kitten. It turned out to be a woman calling for help. He contacted Randy and Bill – and Randy climbed down a ladder into the vault. From there, Randy used the beam of a flashlight to show the woman the path out of the pipe to the vault. Emergency personnel arrived and dropped a rescue harness into the vault. Randy placed the harness on the woman so she could be pulled to safety.

Honorable Mention

Raymond A. Lewis, Supervisor, Research & Planning

Vicki Carson, Security Officer

Jim Dahman, Building Services Lead

West Akron Campus

Ray entered a building at the West Akron Campus to find an unconscious employee with an apparent head injury. He alerted Vicki, who called 911. Ray immediately began CPR. Jim, who is a part-time emergency medical technician, arrived and began assisting Ray. They continued these efforts until emergency services took over.

Honorable Mention

Thomas Whitehead

Lead LC&M, Philipsburg


While reporting to a trouble call, Tom noticed an all-terrain vehicle flipped over against a guardrail. Upon investigating, Tom discovered a man and a woman – both with injuries –about 50 feet down an embankment. After calling 911, he secured a rope from his truck and carefully made his way down the steep embankment. Tom and the man then inched the more seriously injured woman up the hill.

This year’s honorees received a “Hero Box” containing their award, a corresponding VISA gift card, $100 gift card to have dinner on an evening of their choice, a FirstEnergy tumbler and an event program.