The 20-year-old uncle spared no thought when it came to saving his niece from the burning house. "I’d rather get burnt than her. She’s young. She’s still got a lot of stuff going for her," he says.
No matter the number of fights and fallouts, family's always there to help you when you need it. All the drama, tears, and arguments pale in the face of a family member who needs support.
But it isn't just parents or siblings who are there to lift you up when you're down. In the case of an eight-year-old girl, it was her uncle who saved her life - quite literally. In fact, his love for her was so great, he made no hesitation in sacrificing his own safety for her by running into a burning building to get her out. People reported the hero's story.
It all started when at sometime around 4 A.M. on the 4th of July, a fire broke out inside a three-story home in Aberdeen, Washington where 20-year-old Derrick Byrd, his brother, and his sister were with her three kids and their grandfather. The moment they knew something was wrong, Derrick knew he had to act fast. His first priority was getting his niece Mercedes and his nephews Junior and Rory to safety.
Talking to 14 News, Derrick explained that he and his sister had no choice but to get the kids out through the second-floor window of the house. “I ran down the stairs, even though I got burnt, started catching the kids. I caught Junior, and I caught baby Rory out the window,” he recalled.
And then he realized that Mercedes was still inside the house. He explained that she had been too scared to jump and so had gone back into the burning room. “She was screaming my name, so I wasn’t going to let her just sit there. I wasn’t going to let my niece die," Derrick said. “I ran up the stairs and pushed through the fire. I could feel it burning me. I got her and took my shirt off and put it around her face, so she wouldn’t breathe in any smoke. I just carried her out as fast as I could."
Once everyone was out, emergency responders arrived on the scene. Derrick, Mercedes, and Junior were airlifted to the hospital, reported the news outlet.
Today, Derrick is still in a hospital bed, covered in bandages because he's suffering from fourth, third, and second-degree burns. However, he does not regret any of the steps he took to save his niece.
"I don't care if I was burning," he said, reported CNN. "I just wanted to make sure I got her out." And his injuries don't bother him in the slightest. “Even though I got burnt, I really didn’t care though. I’d rather get burnt than her. She’s young. She’s still got a lot of stuff going for her. She’s a good kid,” he said.
Derrick is being hailed as a hero for his quick response and unwillingness to let his niece suffer in the burning building. “He forced entry back into the residence even though it was fully involved with flames at that time,” Lt. CJ Chastain of the Aberdeen Police Department told Komo News. "He went upstairs and was able to bring the eight-year-old, he forced entry into the upstairs and was able to bring her out of the residence and help her to survive it,” the lieutenant explained.
“That’s pretty heroic,” a reporter told Chastain, who responded, saying, “Yes, it was."
But Derrick isn't of the same mindset. “I can’t say a hero. I’d just say I care for my niece and nephews. I wasn’t going to let them die,” he told 14 News. “I’d do it again. I really would. I don’t care. I really would. I’d run back in there and do it again, even if I got worse or died.”
Currently, Derrick, Mercedes and Junior are in serious condition in the burn unit of Harborview Medical Center, according to Komo News. His sister, Kayla Johnson also suffered burns but was treated and released.
Rory, the children’s grandfather Dave Nelson, and his brother Brady Cardin were unharmed.
So far, investigations into the fire have not revealed what caused it, but the authorities believe it started on the second floor of the house, which is now completely decimated.
Thankfully, the family is not alone in this tragic time. Since the disaster, Komo News reported that the family has been receiving donations, clothing, and toys from The Red Cross.
Derrick's sacrifice for his niece shows that love is one of the most powerful forces in the world, especially in the case of family. We wish them a speedy recovery and the ability to overcome this tragedy.