This Philadelphia man stopped at nothing to make sure his bedridden mother was safe during a building fire.
One Thursday night in July 2019, then 35-year-old Jermaine got a call from his sister that their mother’s apartment building had caught fire.
Their 65-year-old mom, Sheila, was bedridden, so they knew she won’t be able to get out of her 15th-floor apartment without help.
Jermaine rushed over to the 19-story Westpark Apartments and attempted to enter through the front door. However, it had already been blocked by the police when he arrived.
Authorities told him the elevators weren’t working, so he said he will take the stairs to see if her sick and bedridden mother is safe.
Jermaine told them he needed to get up there. But unfortunately, the police couldn’t bend the rules for him. They barred him from going in.
But like any good son, Jermaine took it upon himself to ensure his mom’s safety.
“There’s no limits. That’s my mother,” he said in an interview with Action News.
Jermaine had cracked his hip on a set of stairs earlier that day and was walking on crutches. But despite his injuries and the pain he was feeling, adrenaline took over as he scaled up the fenced-in balconies of the building.
With wire cutters in hand, he fearlessly climbed up with one goal in mind: to ensure his mother’s safety.
Luckily, Jermaine was familiar with the layout of the complex because he had lived there before.
“When I grabbed a gate, at the top of the gate, there was a ledge. Then I could step on top of the ledge and reach up to the other gate and keep climbing my way up,” he said.
Sheila was on the 15th floor, but he paid no mind. Neither the scary heights nor strong winds would keep him from getting to her.
“All for my mom’s safety, period. I wasn’t worried about mine at all. She can’t get out of the bed or walk around, so if there’s a fire, she needs help out,” Jermaine said.
After a few minutes, he made it all the way to Sheila’s balcony. She spotted her son outside her apartment and told him she was safe as the fire had been contained.
Sheila didn’t yell at him for climbing up 15 stories without any harness or support, but she was surprised.
“She was more shocked. She’s not surprised by the things that I do for her. She knows I’ll go over and beyond for her,” Jermaine said.
Then, just as quickly as he reached the 15th floor, Jermaine scaled back down the apartment building in less than three minutes, like a real-life Spider-Man.
Turns out, scaling walls wasn’t new to him.
Jermaine was a roofer, construction worker, and a little daredevil who used to jump roofs as a boy. But that doesn’t take away from the danger of this task, even for a pro like him.
“Glad I had the practice,” he said.
When Jermaine was close to ground level, he was certain he would be arrested. But a police officer who understood his reasons for breaking protocol let him go scot-free.
“He told me if I didn’t leave, I was going straight to jail. Because that was his job. But he actually did cut me a break. He understood the circumstances, he knew – when your adrenaline is pumping, and your mom is up there, you thinking she’s dying – you’d do anything you can,” Jermaine recalled.
It was later discovered that the fire started from a trash compactor, and the smoke traveled to the floors above through a garbage chute.
Fortunately, Sheila made it out safely, as did many other residents of the complex. Four civilians and three firefighters were treated in a hospital for smoke inhalation.
Jermaine said he had applied to be a firefighter once, but he never heard anything back.
Watch Jermaine’s interview in the video below.
Even though this happened two years ago, this man’s heroic deed deserves to be known. Please share this story with your family and friends!