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Local heroes: Father and son save neighbor’s life

July 21, 2011

Crews continue to clean up the home of Joan Seitz at 814 Murray St. after a fire on July 2.

A young boy who was just playing outside one day helped to save his neighbor’s life.
Five-year-old Damien Emrick, son of Jessica and Jesse Emrick, was playing outside on July 2, when he noticed something was not right and notified his father.
“I was outside and smelled smoke and saw a fire,” Damien Emrick said. “My dad went to the door and got the lady out.”
Right before the fire department, ambulance and police officers arrived to the scene, Jesse Emrick had helped his neighbor, 86-year-old Joan Seitz, 814 Murray St., from her home and away from the fire, right after his son alerted him that he had smelled smoke.
“The five-year-old son (Damien) alerted his father to the smoke coming from the residence,” Wapakoneta Fire Department Capt. Alan McClintock said. “He (Jesse Emrick) investigated it, and said once he saw the smoke, he heard Mrs. Seitz call out for help.”
McClintock said Jesse Emrick tried to go into the home, but he was not able to make it inside so he found another solution to get his neighbor out.
“He went to the front door and while reaching in blindly, he grabbed her and pulled her through the front door,” McClintock said.
While Joan Seitz was in her home, she was calling out for help, but she was also having difficulty breathing because of smoke inhalation. The smoke and fire made it difficult for Jesse Emrick to hear where the sound of her voice was coming from, so he called out for her.
“As luck would have it, he was able pull her out,” McClintock said.
The Wapakoneta Fire Department was on another fire call on Gibbs Street, when they received the call at approximately 8:51 p.m. for the emergency on Murray Street. They immediately sent crews to her home.
“If he hadn’t assisted her in getting out, I am positive we would have gotten her out, but we’re not sure how serious her condition would have been,” McClintock said.
McClintock said that the Emricks helped saved their neighbor’s life.
Damien Emrick said he is happy that he was able to help save his neighbor.
Joan Seitz’s family is very appreciative and thankful that her neighbors were able to assist her out of the home safely, Seitz’ son said.
“He’s a good samaritan,” Joan’s son, Tom Seitz said of Jesse Emrick. “It was very thoughtful of him to take the time to rescue mother.”
Tom Seitz said that her neighbors, including the Emricks, have came over, after the fire, and asked how Joan Seitz is doing.
“They took the time to care,” Tom Seitz said.
Currently, Joan Seitz has been put into a nursing home for rehabilitation.
“Mother is not remembering what happened,” Tom Seitz said, “but her memory is coming back little by little, and improving every day.”
After visiting his mother in the hospital right after the fire, Tom Seitz said the doctor told him that she may be brain-dead, but the next day when he went to visit her, she was popped up in her chair and eating lunch.
“She’s a fighter,” Tom Seitz said.
The house is currently being gutted and it will take approximately 90 days to be remodeled and completed.
The cause of the fire is thought to be from cooking, and possibly involving grease that caught on fire.
“Everything is black,” Tom Seitz said, after seeing the home for the first time after the fire. “The kitchen was destroyed.”
Only a few items were able to be salvaged after the fire, but Tom Seitz said that there were a few mysteries he had discovered.
A Bible was the only book that did not smell of smoke after the fire.
“She also has a (plastic) statue of Jesus on a shelf, and the shelf was completely black, and it was amazing that the statue didn’t burn at all,” Tom Seitz said.

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