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Comic strip depicts Brainerd Boy Scout’s lifesaving efforts

By permission of Boys’ Life Magazine, February 2019, published by the Boy Scouts of America.1 / 2
Eagle Scout Ben Soukup (left) receives the Life Saving Medal of Honor for saving Caitlin Wallerus. Kelly Humphrey / Forum News Service2 / 2

BRAINERD, Minn. — It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Ben Soukup, Scout in Action!

Not many people can say they’ve been immortalized as a superhero -- but 19-year-old Soukup has those bragging rights. The Brainerd Eagle Scout was selected from hundreds of Boy Scouts award recipients to be featured in “Scouts in Action,” a section of the Boy Scouts of America’s official magazine, Boys’ Life.

The comic depicts the heroic effort of Soukup and his coworker, Dan Lambie, to save a motorist in distress in June 2017, an act that led him to receive the Life Saving Medal of Honor. The Honor Medal is awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at considerable risk to self, according to Boy Scouts of America.

Just 5 percent of Scouts achieve the level of Eagle Scout, and less than 1 percent receive an Honor Medal. The comic places Soukup in yet another elite category — he is one of just 36 recipients selected to be highlighted by Boys’ Life magazine. The magazine staff reviews the stories of hundreds of winners of Heroism Awards, Honor Medals, Honor Medals with Crossed Palms and Medals of Merit to narrow the field to 36 each year.

The comic was drawn by Grant Miehm, who according to an online comic book encyclopedia is a Canadian artist who worked on several DC titles, including “Flash,” “Justice Society,” “Green Arrow,” “Starman” and “Suicide Squad” between 1988 and 1992. Miehm has created “Scouts in Action” since 1999.

So what’s it like to see oneself drawn like all the heroes of comic book lore?

“It’s pretty awesome. I feel pretty good about it,” Soukup said during a phone interview Sunday, Feb. 3. “I think it’s great. They matched everything almost perfectly, from the colors to the scene.”

Soukup and Lambie were driving in June 2017 in Maple Grove when they saw a car running a red light. According to a report from the Maple Grove Police Department, “(Soukup and Lambie) noticed that the driver (Caitlin Wallerus) appeared to be unconscious with head bobbing side to side. (The) car was going about 5-7 mph. They turned, stopped their car and ran up to the vehicle that was now drifting over to the yellow line in oncoming traffic. Dan ran up to the car and crawled into the passenger side window and then shut off the ignition. Ben stopped the oncoming traffic. (The) intersection had both four and six lanes of traffic.

“... After securing the scene, Ben and another person gently took the victim out of her car and immediately began first aid procedures and yelled for someone to call 911. Dan checked for pulse. Ben checked for breathing, turned her over to prevent choking, cushioned her head, covered her for privacy and to prevent shock. They then monitored vitals and assured her until emergency personnel were on scene. She was transported by ambulance.”

In her victim statement, collected as part of the process for determining Soukup’s award, Wallerus said, “I don’t remember much from the day of the accident, but I do know this: It takes a lot of courage, love, and kindness to risk your life to save someone else. Both Dan and Ben got out of their car to help me in my car while I was unconscious. I am eternally grateful for these two men.”

Wallerus was on hand to present awards in January 2018, when Soukup and Lambie received recognition at a ceremony in Brainerd.

“I think what we did was a great thing to do, unlike some other people who just stand there with their phones,” Soukup said. “So I think it took a lot of courage for us to do that.”

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