Local Girl Scout honored with Bronze Cross for saving sister

Sam and Loretta, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern SC (provided)

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- A local Girl Scout was awarded with the organization's rare Bronze Cross Lifesaving award for saving her then-3-year-old sister from being hit by a truck.

They're like any other pair of sisters. Nine-year-old Samantha takes the lead, a role model for all things. She gives 4-year-old Allison a hand when she needs it and stands back to let her shine.

"I think it shows that they really are there for each other and care for each other. It's wonderful," said the girls' mother, Johnnie Pirkel.

It's an unbreakable bond that was put through a very frightening test last year.

Officials said on April 22 of last year, Pirkel was walking with her mother and 3-year-old sister Alison in the Publix parking lot in Knightsville.

The 3-year-old ran into the road and into the path of a red truck.

"I had all the groceries in one hand and her hand in the other. And, she just slipped right out," Johnnie Pirkel said.

Both their mother and then-8-year-old Samantha called out to young Alison for her to come back, but she did not listen. That's when then-8-year-old Samantha did the unexpected.

"There was this big red truck that was blowing all the stop signs. So, I jumped out and grabbed her and jumped back," said the 9-year-old Pirkel.

Samantha wrapped her little sister in her arms and fell backwards out of the way of the truck. Samantha's quick thinking meant both girls escaped the incident unscathed.

"She said to me, 'It's my job as a big sister. I was supposed to do that,'" Johnnie Pirkel said.

"I didn't want her to get hurt so, I'd just rather risk my life to save my little sister," said the little hero, now perched on her mother's lap a year after the ordeal.

At an award presentation held at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Summerville Monday, Samantha was awarded the Bronze Cross Lifesaving award during a Mother Daughter Tea.

"It's really helping Samantha understand that she need to think about the other person. That's something kids just have a hard time with," said the girls' mother.

For now, it's back to the greener pastures of their front yard, tumbling together but setting new goals along the way.

Loretta Graham, CEO of The Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina, presented Samantha with the award and said, "We are proud to have a girl like Samantha in our organization and look forward to seeing what the future has in store for her."

Samantha says she wants to be a firefighter -- but only after she goes to the Olympics.