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Two Florida’s sheriff’s deputies rescued a nine-year-old boy from a house fire moments before the home was completely engulfed in flames.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Deputy Kevin Reich and Deputy Alexander Maldonado attended the fire at the property in Joe Ebert Road in Seffner, Florida, just before 11pm on May 19.
Distraught parents, Chris and Karen Ares, who were on the front lawn with the family dog, told them that their son Owen Ares, 9, was still inside.
Video from the scene shows the pair smashing through Ares’ window and using their flashlights to guide the boy through the smoke towards them, where they then grabbed him and pulled him out to safety.
They lay him on the front lawn to check his vitals and waited with Ares until paramedics arrived to rush him to a local hospital.
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Two Florida’s sheriff’s deputies rescued a nine-year-old boy from a house fire moments before the home was completely engulfed in flames
The pair smashed through Ares’ window and were able to use their flashlights to guide the boy through the smoke towards them, where they then grabbed him and pulled him out to safety
Ares, his mother, Karen McGinnis, and the homeowner were all treated at Tampa General Hospital.
Ares remains in the ICU where he is being treated for smoke inhalation. Ares also suffered burns in the incident.
Neither Reich or Maldonado were injured in rescuing Ares. Both men joined the department in March 2020.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement: ‘I could not be more proud of the quick actions and bravery these deputies displayed, never giving up until they were able to pull the child to safety. It is because of their heroism that this young boy made it out alive.
‘Law enforcement officers are often the first to respond to any emergency scene, so we must always be ready to jump in and help. These deputies never hesitated. They are true examples of what it means to be a hero.’
Nine-year-old Owen Ares is being treated for smoke inhalation and second degree burns
Ares’ mother said in a press conference: ‘[Owen] is my little hero, my North Star, he’s my fighter,’ she said. ‘I’ve taught him to fight and in fact, sometimes he fights too much.’
Ares mother told the media in a press conference the day after the fire that her son suffered second-degree burns on his face and right-arm.
He is ‘heavily sedated’ as hospital staff work to clean his wounds, reports WTSP.
McGinnis said in the press conference: ‘[Owen] is my little hero, my North Star, he’s my fighter,’ she said. ‘I’ve taught him to fight and in fact, sometimes he fights too much.’
McGinnis told the media about her memories of the moment the two hero deputies saved her son’s life.
She described being on her knees praying as Reich and Maldonado rescued Ares until she someone shout ‘We got him.’
McGinnis said: ‘I couldn’t get him. I couldn’t get the chair through the window last night. And I tried so hard and the deputies finally came and got it.’
During the press conference, McGinnis said that her boyfriend Roy Vaughn first alerted the family to the fire.
Vaughn and McGinnis got outside with their dog. McGinnis then went to break the window of her son’s bedroom, this was a few seconds before Reich and Maldonado showed up.
The fire completely destroyed the 110 year-old family home in Florida
Bodycam footage from the sheriff’s deputies showed neighbors gathered on the lawn of the home
According to officials, it took firefighters 15 minutes to get the blaze under control
Hillsborough County Sheriff Deputy Kevin Reich and Deputy Alexander Maldonado arrived at the property in Joe Ebert Road in Seffner, Florida, just before 11pm on May 19. Smoke was billowing out
Maldonado told the media: ‘The biggest thing was probably, we were both just thinking, we have to get this child out of the house. That’s what was going through our minds.’
When called a hero, Maldonado replied: ‘We were just doing our jobs, sir.’
Maldonado talked about the moment he made contact with Ares saying: ‘Once we got the windows broken, and we pulled a window out the front of the house, we just started calling out, ‘hey, buddy, can you hear us?”
He continued: ‘Once we could see his arm and Deputy Reich was able to reach in and pull him to the window, and we could get him up over the window. [I felt] just relief and happiness just to get him out of the house, get him as far away from the house, as far away from the smoke as we possibly could.’
Maldonado added: ‘I hope he makes a speedy recovery and is able to get back, and hopefully, if we’re able to see him in a better state, and see mom in a better state, and have an opportunity to say hi to them. Biggest thing is to just make sure he is able to recover.’
Ares’ father, Chris, said that the sheriff’s deputies need to be recognized for the heroes that they are. Ares’ mother Karen said in a press conference that she was trying to get access to her son’s bedroom when the deputies arrived
Ares’ father, Chris Ares, meanwhile said that the deputies are heroes and deserve to be recognized.
He wrote on Facebook: ‘If it wasn’t for the tenacity of these two officers fighting to save his life then this story might have been much different. Thank you HCSO. You are the real heroes!’
McGinnis meanwhile wrote in part on her Facebook page: ‘We are all alive and will get through this….and start over….The clothes on my back￼ is what I have. The house, the cars, everything…gone…I love him so much and he is alive…I’m traumatized….Please also keep Roy in your prayers as he is also admitted for his heart….Pray for healing, comfort, acceptance, understanding, peace again…one day…’
The 110 year old house is a total loss. According to WTSP, the family also lost their cars in the fire.
The fire was caused after someone in the family lit an outdoor fire pit. The fire spread from there to the garage and to a wooden deck outside of the home.
A fundraiser for the family was held at the Florida Farmhouse Market in Seffner on May 21.