- Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
Media Contact for Chris Etre of Upton Awarded the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery
Boston — Today, in a virtual ceremony commemorating the nineteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Baker-Polito Administration presented the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery to 49-year-old Chris Etre of Upton, who rescued a woman from a submerged car in December 2019. 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.
At 10:00 p.m. on Friday, December 13, 2019, in the area of Worcester Street and Wheeler Road in Grafton, Etre observed a car driving at a very high speed down a steep hill. The vehicle struck a patch of black ice, spun off the road, and jumped over an embankment into the Quinsigamond River. While a teenage male escaped the vehicle, a female teenager was trapped in the sinking car. Etre entered the water and, using a wrench from his car, broke the passenger window to free the victim and guide her to safety through freezing water to the shore. Police, fire, and EMS personnel responded to the scene and found the car fully submerged and empty. Both teenagers were taken to UMass Memorial Hospital for evaluation and found without serious injury.
“Putting his own life at risk, Chris Etre personified the selfless courage we remember Madeline ‘Amy’ Sweeney for,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “In the face of life-threatening danger, he acted quickly and decisively to bring a stranger to safety and is an inspirational example of her legacy. ”
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 of two aircraft hijacked by terrorists and flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Before the plane hit the North 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 2,977 victims of September 11, 2001, that this award was created.
“Nineteen years ago, Amy Sweeney’s extraordinary bravery saved countless lives,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Heroes like Chris Etre remind us each and every day of the incredible sacrifice that Amy and so many others made on September 11, 2001.”
“The award in Amy Sweeney’s name is one of the highest honors the Commonwealth can bestow,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Thomas Turco. “This year, it honors her memory by recognizing Chris Etre and the actions he took to save a life even at great personal risk. Every second counts in these incidents and I thank Mr. Etre on behalf of the public safety community.”
Etre was nominated for the award by Senator Michael O. Moore, Representative David Muradian, and Grafton Police Chief Normand A. Crepeau, Jr. He was selected by the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery Selection Committee, which is chaired by Lt. Governor Polito.
“Chris Etre’s quick action to save a young teenager from certain death in icy waters was exactly the kind of heroic and selfless act that the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery aims to honor,” said Senator Moore. “Chris deserves to be honored for his bravery in a situation which certainly placed him in imminent danger and could have resulted in the loss of a young life.”
“After hearing of his heroic actions, I knew it would be an honor to nominate Chris Etre for the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award to recognize his civilian bravery,” said Representative Muradian. “Chris’ selfless actions reflect his putting-people-first mentality that he has always exuded, and I can say with great confidence that the world would be a better place if there were more individuals who, under such distress when presented this unfolding horror in front of them, responded with the calm, courageous and selfless actions that Chris Etre displayed.”