Individually, we may not be able to change the world. But every now and again, we can do something that changes the world for at least one person. A group of college students at Rutgers University-Camden learned this last Friday.
After a relaxing evening of paying video games and socializing, two of six students decided to head home. The time was about midnight, and there was a stillness in the air… until they looked down the street and saw that a duplex had caught fire. Even worse, no one was running out of the building.
As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, the two students, Tammy Meneses and Vanessa Solis-Palma, quickly informed their friends of the fire. What happened next “went from zero to 100 really quick,” said Meneses. All six friends rushed down the street, yelling and banging on doors. By rattling fences and yelling that there was a fire, they hoped to alert neighbors.
While Corey Zytko alerted a nearby campus security officer Solis-Palma dialed 911. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Matteo Resanovic ran inside. After punching through the glass in the building’s front door, he unlocked it and charged inside. “I wasn’t really thinking. I just broke the front door glass,” he said.
Solis-Palma joined him. Within minutes, they came across a 90-year-old man who had been sleeping in his bedroom on the second floor. The students guided him downstairs and onto the sidewalk. The students waited with the man until firefighters arrived. Within 30 minutes, the blaze was contained. As GoodNewsNetwork reports, the students left immediately afterward.
Once school officials learned of the good deed, a search was conducted to find the heroic students. Reportedly, the students were hesitant to come forward. But once their names were made public, Zytko said: “Fire 101. You’re taught as a kid get everyone out of the building, knock on all the doors. I was just going with it.”
Unfortunately, not everyone survived the fire. The unnamed elderly man stood on the curb of the road, shivering from the cold. “Where’s my son?” he asked. Resanovic says he went inside one more time to look for the man’s son. “I went to the third floor and saw the room was just engulfed. I yelled a couple of times and didn’t hear anything. I thought it would be better not to open that door,” he said.
According to Camden City officials, the 63-year-old son was found dead in a back bedroom on the third floor. The elderly man’s wife was not home at the time of the fire. Still, the students are being applauded for their willingness to charge into the fire, and their successful rescue of the 90-year-old invidiaul.
Said Mary Beth Daisey, vice chancellor of student affairs at Rutgers-Camden: “I think it was really amazing that they considered the community and other people and their safety over themselves.”
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Image Credit: JONATHAN E. PEREZ-GAYTAN