Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Brother who died saving his little sister to be awarded highest civilian heroism honor

HUDSON, S.D. (AP) — A 10-year-old South Dakota boy who died while saving his younger sister in the Big Sioux River will posthumously receive the Carnegie Medal, North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism.

Ricky Lee Sneve was on a fishing trip with his stepfather and siblings on the Big Sioux in Hudson last June.

Ricky’s 5-year-old sister fell into the water and Ricky dove in after her and was able to push her to the river bank.

According to the Carnegie Hero Fund, Ricky pushed Chevelle back toward the bank where she could exit the water to safety, but in doing so, Ricky entered an area of the river where an undertow flowed into water 12 feet deep.

Three boys and Ricky’s stepfather entered the water but two boys immediately struggled and the stepfather and the older boy helped them to the riverbank. By then, Ricky had been carried about 50 feet from the bank, and he was submerged.

Family friend Toni Dumas said in a June 14, 2021, KELOLAND sorty that Ricky “was just amazing. He was outgoing, rambunctious, and I mean, he’s a typical boy, but loved to help people out. I mean, him and his mom are like best friends, and he’d do anything for her. He loved hanging out with his dad. He just was a great kid.”

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who enter extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. With this announcement, a total of 10,291 Carnegie Medals have been awarded since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904.  Ricky is one of 18 civilians to receive the Carnegie Medal, including eight other children.

Commission Chair Mark Laskow said each of the awardees or their survivors receive a financial grant. Throughout the 118 years since the fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, nearly $44 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance, according to a release from the organization.


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