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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Slain Nashua EMT to receive award for heroism

NASHUA – A local man and EMT who died nearly three years ago while saving two women from a knife-wielding attacker was named the recipient of the Carnegie Medal recognizing civilian heroism this week.

Paul Frontiero III was 27 years old when he confronted Matthew Packer outside the Spruce Street apartment building that he shared with friends. Packer had attacked two of Frontiero’s friends, holding a knife to the throat of one and stabbing the other several times, inflicting critical injuries. Frontiero died after the altercation, but his friends lived. ...

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NASHUA – A local man and EMT who died nearly three years ago while saving two women from a knife-wielding attacker was named the recipient of the Carnegie Medal recognizing civilian heroism this week.

Paul Frontiero III was 27 years old when he confronted Matthew Packer outside the Spruce Street apartment building that he shared with friends. Packer had attacked two of Frontiero’s friends, holding a knife to the throat of one and stabbing the other several times, inflicting critical injuries. Frontiero died after the altercation, but his friends lived.

“It says he was a true hero and he put other people above himself,” Frontiero’s mother, Cathy Frontiero, said of the Carnegie Medal. “He saw these ladies in danger and jumped right in without hesitation and saved their lives. It makes both of us – my husband and I – feel good. We raised a true gentleman. That’s what every parent wants, and we’re just proud of him for what he did.”

Frontiero, who was heading to bed after watching a New England Patriots game with friends the evening of Oct. 9, 2011, rushed out to the street and confronted Packer, who “punched” at him with the knife several times. Frontiero fell to the ground when Packer retreated, prosecutors said.

One of the women Packer attacked, Kathryn Libby, was rushed to a hospital in Boston, one of her wounds so large a doctor’s hand fit inside, according to court testimony.

Packer pleaded guilty last August and was sentenced to 52 years to life in prison for Frontiero’s death and the assaults against Libby and a second woman, Jill Arnold. He apologized during his sentencing hearing and said he’s found God in prison – an apology that Frontiero’s parents didn’t believe.

Judge Diane Nicolosi called the murder a “senseless, brutal attack on three innocent people.”

The Carnegie Medal has been awarded to nearly 10,000 people in “peaceful vocations” who act to “preserve or rescue their fellows” and was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1905, according to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Frontiero is one of 22 recipients in the U.S. and Canada this year, including a Tampa, Fla., man who was awarded the medal for a second time. Three other recipients this year died in their attempts to rescue another person, according to the commission.

Arnold said she spoke with Carnegie commission investigators several times about the incident and what Frontiero did that night.

“I’m proud. I’m proud to have been a part of Paul’s life. He’s such a good person. I’m proud of what he did, and I’m obviously eternally grateful,” Arnold said. “I’m really happy for him and for his family and us, his friends. It’s truly, truly deserved.”

Cathy Frontiero said she learned Tuesday her son had been awarded the medal. She described the time since he died a “very long two years and nine months.”

“Some days it seems like it was years and years and years ago, and sometimes it seems like yesterday,” she said. “We go day to day. Grief isn’t something you get over; it’s something you get through. Every day, we work through it a little more.”

The Carnegie Medal includes a monetary award and has given out more than $36 million in one-time grants, scholarships and other assistance to award winners or their families. Cathy Frontiero said she hasn’t heard about that part of the award but has thought about establishing a scholarship award in her son’s name.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “Knowing he was a gentleman and a hero is rewarding, but it’s heartbreaking at the same time.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached
at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).