- Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
Media Contact for Annette Szivos of Gardner Awarded the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery
Timothy McGuirk, Communications
Boston — Today, in a ceremony commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito presented the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery to 66-year-old Annette Szivos of Gardner, whose actions prevented a man from drowning during a medical emergency in June 2021. This annual award honors a civilian who demonstrates exceptional bravery, without regard for personal safety, to save the life of another in actual, imminent danger.
On the morning of Monday, June 7, 2021, Annette Szivos visited Dunn State Park with her grandchildren when she suddenly heard cries for help near a body of water. Szivos discovered a man struggling to stay afloat in the water, and his wife who was unable to swim on the shore. Without regard for her personal safety, Szivos entered the water, rendered assistance, and kept the victim’s head above water despite the significant difference in size between them. With the help of another civilian, Michael Morrison, all three returned to shore safely where the victim received care. It was later discovered at a local hospital that the man lost his balance and fell into the water because of several brain bleeds that required immediate surgery. Despite knowing how to swim, the victim was unable to do so because of this medical emergency. Annette Szivos’ actions successfully prevented him from drowning and afforded him the opportunity to receive treatment and recover.
“On this 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we honor the lives we lost, especially those with ties to Massachusetts, as well as the bravery and heroism of those who acted in service of others that day,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Annette Szivos responded to a life-threatening situation with the same poise and courage we remember Madeline ‘Amy’ Sweeney for. I hope the examples of Annette and Amy inspire all of us to do everything we can to respond in moments of crisis.”
Known as “Amy,” Ms. Sweeney was an American Airlines flight attendant for 14 years. She lived in Acton, Massachusetts with her husband, Michael Sweeney, and their two small children. On September 11, 2001, she was killed aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first aircraft hijacked by terrorists and flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. In the flight’s final minutes, 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 all victims of September 11, 2001, that this award was created.
“Amy Sweeney’s swift action as a member of Flight 11’s crew saved countless lives on 9/11,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This annual award reminds us that her spirit continues through the lived experience of people like Annette Szivos. When she saw someone struggling, she jumped into action, demonstrating incredible bravery. I commend her for her courage, which cannot be overstated.”
“As public safety professionals, we depend on civilian heroes like Amy Sweeney in our shared response to dangerous situations,” said Acting Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “In this water safety event, Mrs. Szivos prevented a terrible outcome and created an opportunity for the victim to receive life-saving medical care. In this important public safety moment marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we continue fulfilling our promise to never forget by honoring the legacy of Amy Sweeney and the actions of Mrs. Szivos.”
Szivos was nominated for the award by Representative Jonathan Zlotnik. She was selected by the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery Selection Committee, which is chaired by Lt. Governor Polito. In addition to the Sweeney Award and in special recognition of Mr. Morrison’s actions that day, the Committee requested that he receive a citation, which was also conferred today.