For Immediate Release - September 11, 2016


BOSTON – Sunday, September 11, 2016 – On the fifteenth anniversary of terrorist attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security presented the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery to George Heath, who tragically and heroically gave his own life earlier this year to protect those around him from an attacker with a knife in the Silver City Galleria in Taunton.

“When faced with the horror of an armed attacker, George Heath did not hesitate for an instant to act decisively to defend the safety of those around him,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “George Heath showed the same type of character and resolve that defined the heroes of 9/11 and it is our privilege to honor his sacrifice on this solemn anniversary.”

George Heath was a visual arts teacher at the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical School and a resident of Taunton. While dining with his wife Rosemary at Bertucci’s restaurant in Taunton on May 10, 2016, a man wielding a knife entered the restaurant and began to stab innocent patrons and employees. In an act of extraordinary bravery and with complete disregard for his own safety, George Heath confronted the attacker, putting himself in between the man and a pregnant woman. While the woman did sustain stabbing injuries, Mr. Heath gave his own life to save her and her unborn child from further harm.

George Heath was nominated for this award by State Representative Shaunna O’Connell and Taunton Police Chief Edward Walsh. 

About the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award:

For 14 years, Madeline Amy Sweeney was an American Airlines flight attendant. She lived in Acton, Massachusetts with her husband, Michael Sweeney, and their two small children. On September 11, 2001, she was aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first of two aircraft hijacked by terrorists and flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Before the plane hit the tower, Sweeney contacted the airline’s ground services crew to convey critical information about the hijackers and their actions on the plane that morning. It is for her heroism and the victims of September 11, 2001, that this award was created.