Frank Williams Jr. and wife, Doretha Williams

Frank Williams Jr., left, and his wife, Doretha Henry Williams. Via the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

New Orleans city officials on Monday presented a prestigious heroism medal to the widow of a man who died while rescuing a stranger from a car that plunged into a local canal in late 2017.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission chose Frank “Frankie” Williams Jr., who worked at the Blue Crab Restaurant & Oyster Bar, to posthumously receive the medal in December. Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Fire Department Chief Tim McConnell followed up Monday by presenting that medal to Williams’ widow, Doretha Henry Williams, during a brief ceremony at City Hall.

McConnell said Williams embodied the exact type of bravery that his department wants in its members, and Cantrell pledged that New Orleans would “not forget this act of kindness (and) heroism.”

“It mattered then, and it matters now, and we want to make sure it continues to matter in the future of our city, and that other residents … can respond the way (Williams) did at that particular time of crisis,” Cantrell added.

Doretha Williams said she was grateful her husband’s memory lives on in the city.

“I miss him so much,” she said.

Williams, 50, was cooking at the Blue Crab on Lakeshore Drive the night of Dec. 5, 2017, when two men who were cousins got into a car in the restaurant parking lot. The driver believed the car was in reverse and pressed the gas pedal, sending the vehicle into a nearby, 10-foot-deep canal.

Williams and others at the restaurant worked together to get one of the men in the car out, using a rope in their efforts. That man survived while his cousin died.

Williams also died, having drowned.

Along with the medal, Williams’ family received a $5,000 grant. He was among 18 people to be so honored last year.

Late philanthropist Andrew Carnegie created the Hero Fund Commission after two men died trying to rescue others following a deadly coal-mining accident in 1904. In 114 years, the fund has awarded medals to about 10,000 people while giving out about $40 million in grants.

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.