Family members say a mysterious hero broke down the door of a burning building and rescued their paralyzed son who they were desperately searching for as smoke filled their south suburban home.
The blaze started around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday at a home in the 600 block of Sullivan Lane in University Park, authorities said.
“We were awakened by someone banging on the door saying, ‘Get out, get out,’” said homeowner Lawrence Smith.
Smith said he immediately began searching for his wife, children and grandchildren, but couldn’t find his paralyzed son.
“I have a son downstairs who is partially paralyzed we couldn’t find,” he said. “It was so much confusion, so much smoke at the time.”
That’s when Smith says a stranger kicked down the door, went downstairs and carried his 175-pound son out.
“This guy appeared out of nowhere,” Smith said. “Don’t even know him.”
The man disappeared as firefighters battled the extra-alarm blaze that left Smith’s garage in ashes, the family’s vehicles melted and part of their home charred and collapsing.
Mixed in with the debris, Smith said, was shells, tubes, fuses and launchers from exploded fireworks. It was not clear if Fourth of July fireworks may have sparked the blaze, however.
Smith said he’s just grateful his family survived.
“I could have lost everybody,” he said.