Katelyn Ibarra, a Girl Scout from Steamboat Springs who helped save lives after a city bus crashed, recently travelled to Washington, D.C. to be honored as a 2017 Citizen Honors Award winner by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.
On March 29, 2016, Katelyn and her family were on their way to eat dinner when they came upon a city bus that had crashed on U.S. Highway 40 near CR 44. The roads were very slick and icy from a snowstorm earlier in the day. As soon as Katelyn saw the crash, she knew she had to help. After climbing up a slippery, muddy slope to reach the front of the bus, Katelyn climbed through the broken windshield and into the bus. Without hesitation, she helped the driver and numerous passengers, many of whom were in shock, bleeding, or had other serious injuries.
In addition to this award, Girl Scouts of the USA awarded Katelyn the prestigious Medal of Honor for “saving life or attempting to save life without risk to the candidate’s own life.”
We asked Katelyn to share her story about that fateful night and the events that have followed. Here is her story:
Recently, my life was changed forever after I did a simple deed that I thought was a no-brainer. In March 2016, my family and I came upon a head-on collision between an SUV and a city bus. I assisted the victims by climbing up a muddy embankment and through the broken windshield of the bus where I helped passengers who had facial injuries and were in shock. That night, I saw people from all characteristic spectrums. I saw people who didn’t slow down at all. I encountered people that had a weak stomach, but still tried to help. There were the others that helped like I did. In my mind, anyone and everyone would have done what I did, but on that night and the year to follow I learned otherwise. As I was once told, there are ordinary angels all over the place, it’s just a matter of them showing themselves. My biggest thought in the moment was, I would want someone to help me, so I made sure to help them!
After that night, the attention I received was way out of my comfort zone. I received the Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Meritorious Service Award and Girl Scouts of the USA’s Medal of Honor. In addition, the local newspaper wrote articles, I was interviewed on the news, and it was all over social media. I felt like telling the story was bragging, but that all changed last month.
I was presented the Young Hero Citizens Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation in Washington, D.C. It was an amazing experience and so humbling! I visited monuments, Arlington National Cemetery, the Joint Mayer Military Base, and the U.S. Capitol. I even got to eat dinner in the Library of Congress. I met such a sweet and inspiring lady named Molly who was awarded a Citizen’s Medal of Honor for stopping a school shooting. I also met over 20 men who had received the Congressional Medal of Honor for Valor (for saving lives while in the military). They told their stories in a simple and kind way and would never shame anyone while telling their stories. I realized there is a way to talk about my story while staying humble. Receiving the award wasn’t the point, the main point was showing your character by spreading kindness, helping others, and passing on good qualities.
Men and women today and throughout history have sacrificed their lives everyday to keep us free. They are the reasons we are here today and can live the lifestyles we live now. When you see a veteran make sure to always thank them and to respect them. I’m still not really sure what to think about all this and how it will impact my life, but I’m definitely more comfortable about it now. You never know how your life can change in such a split second, both for the better or the worse. I’m thankful I was able to help that night.