Sylvester man who died while saving child awarded Carnegie Medal

Gary DeWayne "D.J." Vinson Jr. of Sylvester, who died Aug. 3, 2008, while atempting to rescue a child from the Flint River, has been recognized today with a Cargenie Medal for his extraordinary act of civilian heroism.

Vinson was one of 23 people recognized by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

The 23-year-old Vinson was recognized for his valiant efforts to save two young boys -- Matthew Perry, then 10, and Joshua Perry, 11 -- who had fallen into the Flint River at the Riverfront Park area of Albany.

Vinson and others formed a chain to attempt to get the boys safely to the riverbank and were successful in rescuing Matthew. Joshua, however, fell back into the river current, and Vinson went after him. Both drowned.

"All his life he wanted everyone to love one another," said Beth Vinson, D.J.'s mother. "If they did put (a memorial sign) down (at Riverfront Park), it would really touch me.

"I know he's my son, but he was a sweet young man," she added. "I never heard anyone say anything bad about him. He was a one of a kind son is all I can say."

Beth Vinson said her son had just started his own lawn business and was "doing very well at it" at the time of the tragedy. She said that D.J. was saving money to one day attend Valdosta State University since his parents couldn't afford it.

He was nominated for the Carnegie award by Jim Hendricks, editor of The Albany Herald.