“Heroes need to be recognized,” CNN reported Karen McGinnis and Chris Ares said about two Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies. Alexander Maldonado, and Kevin Reich braved a fierce house fire to rescue the couple’s nine-year-old boy, Owen.
McGinnis said, “‘They [the deputies] put their necks on the line’ not waiting for the fire department to arrive. McGinnis said she had tried to break a window but wasn’t able to do so.”
Ares feels too many people focus on “the bad.” He said, “it’s very important that we talk about our heroes and the police are good and you know, they saved my son’s life and I’m so grateful.”
Owen’s father described how the deputies searched for his son from two bedroom windows they’d smashed that McGinnis had been unable to break. Despite it being dark, 11 p.m., the “intense heat…,” and the “smoke pour[ing] from the house,” deputies “would choke and then catch their breath…” and continue the search, Ares said.
Reportedly, it took over three minutes before deputies found Owen, and they could pull him out of the fire and billowing smoke to safety. Once outside, the fire department medics who’d just arrived took over lifesaving care.
The deputies captured the rescue on their body cam video, which is provided at this link from FOX 8 News. The video provides images that do more justice than words to show just how thick the smoke was in Owen’s bedroom.
Officials reported Owen suffered smoke inhalation and “second-degree burns on his face and right arm.” As of Friday, he was still in the hospital in serious condition. According to McGinnis, Owen was “heavily sedated and very comfortable.”
According to ABC Action News, “Owen’s injuries aren’t as critical as first believed,” though they report he was placed on a ventilator…” to treat his smoke inhalation.
HCSO Sheriff Chad Chronister issued a statement heaping accolades on his deputies, of whom he said, “he could not be more proud….” Calling his deputies heroes, he praised they didn’t hesitate and never gave up.
The boy’s father summed it up when he said, “If it wasn’t for them, my son would be dead. It was like within minutes he was gonna be … he wouldn’t have made it.”