A TOUGH WAY TO BREAK A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD -- At age 23, in March 2002, a recuperating Matthew David McKnight leans on a cane for support as he receives an award of valor from Pennsylvania Congressman Richard A. Kasunic (D-32nd District).
A native of Connellsville, PA, Matt began volunteering as a fireman at the age of 14 and pursued training as an emergency medical technician (EMT). He became a paramedic and continued that work even while serving as a supervisor for Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. On the fateful day of Oct. 25, 2001, he and his mother were carpooling and driving home from work when they saw an overturned pickup truck along the high speed Parkway East (I-376) and stopped to help. After exiting his vehicle, and while standing on the shoulder of the eastbound lane, Matt was struck head-on by another vehicle, moving at 70 miles per hour.
Said the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Matt "flew 118 feet through the air and landed on the pavement." His body was "broken in dozens of places," including dislocation of both shoulders, fractured pelvis and chest, and a bone protruding through the skin. He underwent emergency surgery at Mercy Hospital followed by six additional surgeries over the ensuing months. In addition to the 2002 heroism award, the incident was memorialized in the 2008 Guinness World Records book in the category of "Greatest Distance Thrown in a Car Accident." (It's also in the 2013 edition.) More on Matt and his branch of the family >>>