(Photo: Screen grab/WROC-TV)
An 8-year-old boy from Rochester, N.Y., is being praised as a hero after he saved six people from a home fire then tragically died after he went back to the burning home to rescue his disabled grandfather on Monday morning.
Cpl. John Helfer of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office told the Associated Press that young Tyler Doohan was able to save six of the nine people who were sleeping in the single-wide trailer home where they lived in Penfield when the fire began about 4:45 a.m. Doohan's bravery saved the lives of four adults and two children, ages 4 and 6.
Firefighters in a WROC report explained, however, that his selfless actions didn't end there. After saving the six people by alerting them of the fire, Tyler went back to the burning trailer to save his disabled 57-year-old grandfather, Louis Beach, but both of them got trapped and perished in the flames, along with Steven Smith, 54.
"I heard somebody screaming bloody murder from over there. It was bright over there," Andrew Williams, who saw the flames, told WROC.
Other neighbors in the East Avenue Manufactured Home Community said the raging fire mixed with screams for help created a tragic and emotional scene.
"My heart dropped. I was just like, wow. It was so intense I can't believe it happened. I feel like it was a dream," said neighbor Eric Berg.
Firefighters say the home had been deemed unlivable more than once, and with nine people in the trailer it was overcrowded.
"The roof had collapsed on the front half of the trailer and one of the individuals was found there, probably on a couch, but there was nothing left to even see if it was furniture," Penfield Fire Chief Chris Ebmeyer told KARE 11. "In the rear, there was a bedroom and the other deceased male was found in a bed. The child was a few feet away," he added.
A news release from Richard Stutzman Jr., interim superintendent of the East Rochester School District where young Tyler attended school, hailed him as a hero.
"With great sadness, the East Rochester School District confirms one of the three victims of an early-morning fire in Penfield was a fourth-grade boy at our school," said Stutzman in the release.
"It is extremely important to remember that, according to emergency personnel, (Tyler) was the person who discovered the fire and tried to wake the eight other people in the residence at the time. In bravely and selflessly giving his own life, he was able to save the lives of six others — and he is truly a hero."