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Father and neighbor save children from burning apartment

by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on January 22, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 22 at 5:54 PM

"I caught my neighbor's son when he dropped him from the balcony."

A neighbor tells News 4 about an incredible, life-saving rescue from a burning apartment building overnight.

A baby and his father are in critical condition at St. John's Mercy burn unit this afternoon after a fire broke out inside their O'Fallon, Illinois apartment while they were sleeping.  Another child is also being treated for smoke inhalation.  It happened in the 800 block of North Cherry Street around 1a.m.

From a balcony, a father drops his 1-year-old son into the waiting arms of neighbor, Kevin Kreidell... away from the fire raging inside an apartment.
   
"My neighbor Larry -- It sounded like he started banging on the walls, and then we heard him in the back yelling for help," Kreidell says.  "At first we didn't know what was going on.  We came out back and it looked like a dense fog."

That "fog" was black, billowing smoke.  As the fire grew, Larry Ishum went back for 6-year-old Dylan before jumping off of the second-floor balcony.

"I could see that his hands were bleeding, his feet were bleeding," Kreidell says.  "His arms -- what I thought just looked like a really severe sunburn was really quite a bad burn, but the rest of him was just covered in soot."

Ishum suffered second and third-degree burns to much of his body.

"He saved my children's lives, and I am so grateful to him saving my children's lives," Amber Pearson says.

Pearson was working when fire erupted inside her bedroom, where Ishum, the father of 1-year-old Zayden, was sleeping. 

As fire fighters work to uncover what sparked the blaze, they salvage what they can.
   
"They got some toys, and they got some picture albums," Pearson says.  "My son asked for some Lego's while he's in the hospital right now."

Pearson says Dylan is recovering from smoke inhalation.  His baby brother is in ICU.

"He's got burns on his ears and on his hand," Pearson says of 1-year-old Zaydan.  "They've got his hand all wrapped up, and (he has) burns on his little feet."

Pearson says all three of her loved ones will be O.K., thanks to quick thinking and brave reaction.

"Without Kevin too -- where would that baby have gone?  He'd have had nowhere to go," Pearson says.  They're really all I've got..."

"I'd like to think that I did what anyone would have done," Kreidell says.

The fire destroyed two of the six units in the building.  The Red Cross is helping the victims find a place to stay.

"All I could think about is, you know what, at least they're safe and we're here," Pearson says.  "But we have no where to go now."

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