Rookie Cop and Rookie Firefighter Help Save Autistic Boys from House Fire: 'I Would Do It Again'


Michal Pietrusinski and his fiancee Sharon Navarro were out for a walk in their neighborhood in Zephyrhills, Florida, last week when they became inadvertent first responders.

It was around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday when they came across a fire at a house a few doors down from their own home — and they were certainly the right people to help.

Pietrusinski is an officer with the Plant City Police Department and had just been sworn in earlier this month. Despite his rookie cop status, though, he is no stranger to saving lives and serving others.

Originally from Poland, Pietrusinski spent seven and a half years in the U.S. Navy and then four more years as a search and rescue swimmer, WTVT-TV reported.

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Upon seeing the fire and spotting the woman who lived there running out with one of her children, the power couple immediately went to work alerting neighbors and using a garden hose to start battling the flames.

“I saw [the] mom coming running towards the house with her third child,” Pietrusinski said, according to WTVT. “So automatically, I thought, where are the boys? Because I’m familiar with the family.”

The two boys, who both have autism, were still in the burning home. Pietrusinski went inside, using the garden hose as he went, calling out to the boys.

“If you can hear me, come towards my voice,” he said.

After wetting a T-shirt and placing it over his mouth so he could breathe in the smoke-filled home, the off-duty cop crawled through the house until he spotted one of the boys standing in the smoke.

“I was definitely at the right place at the right time,” Pietrusinski said.

After safely removing the first boy, Pietrusinski asked the mother where she thought the other boy might be and went back into the home.

The Pasco County Fire Rescue soon arrived, and firefighters also entered the building.

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“As soon as we walked in the building, I couldn’t see anything. So it was all smoke,” probationary firefighter Joshua Casal said. “I tried to get down low, and I still couldn’t see anything.”

Rookie Casal, along with firefighter Timothy McCormick and Captain Craig Harris, entered the home and found the second boy in the shower with the water running.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking, you know?” Casal said. “Like, what condition is he going to be in and is he going to be okay.”

The boy was responsive and breathing but was still life-flighted to a hospital to ensure he recovered from smoke inhalation. He has since been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Pietrusinski also went to the hospital to be checked out for smoke inhalation but was released. It was all worth it for the new cop, who is now being called a hero.

“I’m glad that I could help, and I would do it again,” he said.

“The Plant City Police Department is very proud of Officer Michal Pietruskinski for his heroic actions and we are thankful everyone involved is safe!” the Plant City Police Department shared on Facebook.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking