Man honored for saving Andover woman from burning car

When Brian Manion rescued an Andover woman from her burning car, he wasn’t expecting any recognition.

The Boy Scouts of America presented Brian Manion with the prestigious Honor Medal Sunday, March 2, 2014. Manion was awarded the medal after saving an Andover woman from her burning car. Submitted photo

The Boy Scouts of America presented Brian Manion with the prestigious Honor Medal Sunday, March 2, 2014. Manion was awarded the medal after saving an Andover woman from her burning car. Submitted photo

He was simply living out the Boy Scouts of America’s slogan: “Do a good turn daily.”

Even after becoming the recipient of the Boy Scouts’ prestigious Honor Medal March 2, Manion remained modest. “I’m a simple person,” he said. “I do what I can.”

Manion, 35, of Isanti, pulled Tonia Dockter, 43, from her smoldering vehicle Nov. 17, 2012. He was honored for his heroism in a ceremony for Three Rivers District volunteers this month.

The Honor Medal is a national award, given to men involved in the Scouts who take on “considerable risk” while saving or attempting to save another’s life.

The award dates back to 1923, and since that time, fewer than 2,500 medals have been distributed across the United States.

Manion’s medal is the first presented locally in at least 10 years, according to Jamie Lamprecht, senior director of the Three Rivers District.

The incident

On Nov. 17, 2012, Manion and his family were headed home after a morning of shopping in Coon Rapids.

The family saw Dockter driving in and out of the ditch on County Road 9 and became concerned.

Jennifer, Manion’s wife, called 911 to report “sporadic, crazy driving” after Dockter hit a speed limit sign and sped off, Manion said.

Near the 19700 block of County Road 9, Manion’s family discovered Dockter’s car in the ditch and went to see if she needed help.

Manion saw that there was a young boy in the vehicle, Dockter’s son, as well as the female driver.

As Manion was making his way down into the swamp where Dockter’s car settled, he heard another bystander shout, “The car’s on fire!’”

The boy jumped out of the vehicle, but Dockter didn’t move. She appeared to be chemically impaired, Manion said.

“A little bit of panic sets in, a little bit of adrenaline,” he said, remembering the day.

Manion unbuckled Dockter’s seat belt and lifted her out of the car. Another bystander helped her away from the vehicle while Manion returned for her purse.

He isn’t sure why, but he turned off the car and put it in park. “As I was doing all that, the car was starting to fill with smoke,” he said.

By the time police arrived, thick black smoke could be seen miles away and the car and the grass around it were engulfed in flames, according to an investigation report from Deputy Travis Bolles of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Dockter was transported to the hospital.

In May, she pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and endangerment of a child charges. The court sentenced her to two years probation after it stayed one year in prison.

A long history with the Scouts

Manion’s training with the Boy Scouts led him to action Nov. 17.

“It’s been a lifelong journey,” he said.

He started as a Cub Scout in Pack 524 out of Coon Rapids. He moved through Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1996 after reconstructing some steps in Bunker Hills Regional Park.

Now, his son Daniel is a Cub Scout in Pack 511 out of St. Francis, and Manion is his leader.

Manion is grateful to his parents, Don and Sue Manion, who nominated him for the lifesaving award, and all of the scout leaders who taught him the skills necessary to spring into action Nov. 17.

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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