Kindness can sometimes change a person’s life. But heroic action coming into the right time can save a person. The 64-year-old man Michael Surrell has been suffering from lung disease. But when he saw that his young neighbor was trapped in the burning house, he didn’t hesitate to plunge into the flames.
Michael didn’t wait for the firemen to come
When Michael and his wife had just parked on the corner of their street in Allentown, Pensylvania, one of his daughters frantically screamed: “The house next door is on fire!”
He immediately came near the burning house and saw two women and a girl, freaking out on their porch. The man knew the family was waiting for the fire department to come help, but he didn’t know if they’d get there in town. So, the 64-year-old man first took matters into his hands. He ran inside.
The “girl” in question was 8-year-old Tiara Roberts, the granddaughter of one of the two women–the other one was her aunt. Tiara was also a playmate of Michael’s own three kids, who were then 8, 10, and 12.
He had to try twice–but he didn’t give up
Michael tried his best to run into the burning house as quickly as possible which he said was like “running into a bucket of black paint.” Once he was inside, the thick smoke was so thick that he went on to stumble blindly around, burned his eyes, and couldn’t breathe.
The smoke and flames can put anyone into a threatening condition. And for Michael, who suffered chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this rescue mission was dangerous for him, even deadly.
That was the reason why after a few minutes, Michael had to come back outside to catch his breath. “Where is Tiara?” he asked. “The second floor,” her aunt shouted back.
Michael knew he couldn’t hold his breath for long, so he prayed. He would not come out without that little girl.
Michael even thought he would die up there
Michael took a deep breath, he rushed back inside the terribly dark burning house. Thankfully, the house had a similar layout as his so he was able to make his way to the second floor.
“Baby girl, where are you?” Michael shouted.
His throat was burning. He could barely blink without his eyes stinging. At first, he could only hear the flames destroying the wooden foundation of the house. And thankfully, he heard a small cry.
He dropped on his knees and crawled his way to Tiara. While he thought he would die up there, he felt around trying to find the little girl. Finally, he felt a foot.
Michael pulled the little girl toward him and scooped her up and ran out of the house.
She wasn’t breathing and still, Michael refused to give up
Michael put Tiara down on the porch. She wasn’t breathing. “You have to breathe for her,” a voice in his head told him. He started performing CPR—the first time he’d ever done so.
Soon, Tiara’s throat opened up and she coughed. Michael gave five more breaths. She coughed again.
Michael hugged her tight and said, “Uncle’s got you.” Soon after that, his throat closed off.
Despite the aftermath, he would do it again
Michael woke up in the hospital a couple of days later. He had to stay there for a week–Tiara was released after a few days. He had severe burns on his windpipe and the upper portion of his lungs. His pulmonary condition, two years later, has worsened and he’s taking extra medication to help open his airways.
“It’s a small price to pay. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t give it a second thought”. He said.