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Minnesota teen posthumously receives citizen hero award

March 27, 2021 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota teenager who died last year after rescuing her younger relatives from drowning near a dam will receive one of the nation’s highest honors for heroism.

Raina Lynn Neeland, who was 18 years old, will receive the Citizen Honor Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the Star Tribune reported. The teenager from near Bagley, Minnesota got caught, along with seven children, in the turbulent waters at the bottom of the Clearwater Dam in Sinclair Township on Aug. 17. She pulled the younger children to safety, but went under the water herself.

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Large amounts of rain had caused higher than normal water levels at the dam. Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson said the dam is off-limits to the public, but authorities have struggled to keep people from accessing it.

He praised Neeland’s actions in saving her relatives, saying, “I am very proud of her.”

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which bestows the nation’s highest military decoration for bravery, selects people and individuals each year for its Citizen Honors Awards. Neeland is one of five people and one organization being honored with this year’s award.