Samantha Weideman awoke to find her house going up in flames. Brayden, her 17-month-old baby, was sleeping next to her when her 4-year-old nephew Nathan came in to alert her to the fire.
Her husband had already left for work, and Samantha knew she needed to act quickly. She began to throw buckets of water at the flames, hoping to contain them.
But the fire was spreading too quickly. The smoke had become so thick that they could no longer reach the front door to get outside.
So Samantha grabbed the two children and brought them into the bathroom. She was able to open the window for air, and climbed out onto the roof.
But just as she tried to reach back in for Brayden, a pipe she’d been standing on for balance suddenly collapsed.
“I panicked. I could not breathe,” Samantha said. “I left the baby in the sink and climbed out the bathroom window to get some air and a grip so that I could jump down. I was on my toes getting a grip on the pipes. I was planning to grab the baby from the sink, below the window.”
She fell to the ground below and began to scream for help. She was hurt after falling from the roof, but knew she needed help to save the boys still trapped inside.
Nathan was able to climb out the window and down to safety on his own. But baby Brayden was still in the sink, the flames moving closer and closer to him.
Neighbors quickly came to help, but the window was too high for their ladder to reach. Thinking quickly, they grabbed a hose and aimed it at the window to try to keep the fire away from the baby.
When fire fighters finally arrived, they rushed into the house to find Brayden. The leading firefighter, Charles Zikhali, found the baby unconscious and lying face-down in the bathroom sink.
He held Brayden to his chest and began to perform CPR once back outside. After 30 minutes of chest compressions, the baby miraculously began to breathe again.
“It was our job to help but it overwhelmed us when Brayden began crying and moving about,” fire station commander Eric Wolfaardt said. Within 20 minutes, the family’s house had been completely destroyed.
Both Samantha and baby Brayden were taken to the hospital that day. “To see my wife and baby leave in separate ambulances left me devastated,” said husband and father Nicholas Thomas Daw.
Late that night, Samantha was able to leave the hospital with injuries to her back. But Brayden was transferred to another hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and burns.
“He has 50% inhalation burns and 60% first-degree burns to his body” Nicholas said. “He is in the intensive care unit on a ventilation machine.
“The doctors cannot give us any certain answers about his condition but we remain hopeful he will pull through.” Our thoughts and prayers are with the family for baby Brayden to stay strong and to continue fighting.
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