It was a horrific scene and one that no one wants to witness. As firefighters arrived at an apartment building in Dekalb, Georgia, they realized that there were still people trapped inside.
“I heard the screams,” said DeKalb County assistant fire chief Jeff Crump. They quickly unloaded ladders and tried to get them up to the third floor.
As firefighters reached the third floor balcony, the rescuers saw several survivors, flames not far away.
Karl Ragland and his wife and eight children were one family trapped inside.
Firefighters quickly determined that there was little time and yelled to the father that he had two minutes to get the children out to safety.
With no time to think, Ragland made a difficult decision.
“They kept hollering throw the baby, throw the baby,” said Ragland, choked up with emotion. He feels blessed that no one died.
Many other parents had to make the same decision. With access to the stairs inside cut off, the only way out was from the balconies.
This amazing story of bravery was caught on video, and though the firefighters risked their lives to save others, this quick-thinking father is also a hero.
The list of accolades to the rescue team goes on and on.
Captain Scott Stroup is seen in the video catching a child being dropped from the third story. Captain Jackie Peckrul was seen catching another child from frantic parents above.
“We don’t encounter that pretty often,” Crump said. “Obviously the parents trusted us enough to drop their children to our captains. And they made the catch.”
It was a night of heroes. Though many of the apartment tenants lost most of their possessions, they were grateful to be alive.
The event left the 12 rescued more than a little shaken up. They have been experiencing flashbacks of that terrible night. But all agree that things could have been much worse.
“My dad is an angel,” said 8-year-old Ronald Rockmore, whose father suffered third-degree burns after helping him to safety.
This brave 8-year old goes on to he say how thankful he is for the firefighters, too.
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