Thousands have been praising this uncle after saving his niece from a house fire. 20-year-old Derrick Byrd didn’t have second thoughts about running back inside his sister’s home in Aberdeen, Washington after it started burning into flames. Derrick knew he had to act fast as his 8-year-old niece Mercedes was still trapped inside.
Derrick’s niece, and nephews Junior, 6, and Rory, 4, were on the second floor with their mother, Kayla, Derrick’s sister. The two adults immediately began working together to save the children from the raging inferno. Kayla pried the bedroom window open and her brother ran out of the house and stood in the yard below, ready to catch the children as they jumped.
“Kayla wanted to get the kids out so I ran downstairs even though I got burnt,” Derrick recalled. “Started catching the kids. I caught Junior and I caught Baby Rory out of Kayla’s window.”
He successfully caught the two boys, but when it was Mercedes’ turn, things took a turn for the worse. The little girl was too scared to jump. Then, Kayla lost her balance and fell to the ground. Realizing that she was the only one left, Mercedes froze in fear and staggered back into the burning home in shock. She called out for her uncle to help her.
Derrick didn’t let a second pass by. He knew that Mercedes wouldn’t be able to jump on her own, so he immediately ran back inside the burning home to retrieve her.
“She was screaming my name,” he said. “So I wasn’t just going to let her sit there. I wasn’t going to let my niece die.”
“I just 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 and I just carried her out as fast as I could.”
The whole family was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center for treatment. The house fire left Derrick with second- and third-degree burns on his face, back, and arms. Incredibly, even though he is badly wounded and in extreme pain, his spirits remain high. He says he has absolutely no regrets for what he did. In fact, if he had to do it all over again – even if he died – he would do it just to save his family.
Fire investigators are still looking for the cause of the fire, but they believe that it started on the second floor. According to the Aberdeen Police Department, there was $268,000 worth of damage to the property and its contents.
To help them recover from the loss, the family’s neighbors and friends have started a food, clothing, and toy drive. They practically lost all of their possessions, but what’s important is that they all survived the house fire. And if not for Derrick’s bravery, the situation could have ended much worse.
“I can’t say [I’m] a hero. I’d just say for my niece and nephews, I wasn’t going to let them die,” Derrick said.
Even if he doesn’t consider himself as one, his family, friends, and the whole community will eternally see him for what he truly is – a hero.
Watch our hero below being interviewed while recovering at the hospital.