Saucier woman ‘lucky to be alive’ after neighbors pull her from burning trailer

Updated: Apr. 8, 2019 at 4:44 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Harrison County woman is safe after her neighbor pulled her from her burning home Sunday night.

Dusty Cooley was out walking his dog on Saucier-Lizana Road around 7:20 p.m. when he heard a smoke alarm going off at 74-year-old Sylvia Rediger’s mobile home. Cooley was with his friend Trevor Wilkerson.

“We walked toward the fire. It was smoke at the time. So, as we saw fire, we started running over here,” he recalled.

According to Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan, smoke and flames were blocking the woman from escaping out of the trailer's front door. She was trying to get out the back door but was unable to get the door open.

Sullivan said the woman was able to stick her head out of a small dog door that was cut into the back door, allowing her to get air. That’s where she was when her neighbor found her.

“As soon as I heard her yelling, that’s when it became real to me. And I immediately prayed to God, please, give me the strength to get this lady out of the house,” Cooley said.

Daring rescue saves the life of a woman
Daring rescue saves the life of a woman(Photo Source: WLOX)

Cooley and Wilkerson had to act fast, according to Cooley.

“Trevor was here first, and he tried to get his hands right here at top, trying to pry with his fingers. And I saw the doggie door, so I stuck my hand through the doggie door and started kind of pulling right here which flexed the door enough for him to get his fingers in the top there. And once he got his fingers in there, we were both just pulling at that door until finally it came open, and she was laying right here,” he explained.

Other neighbors joined in to help, breaking the door open and pulling the woman out just as firefighters arrived.

She was taken to Gulfport Memorial Hospital, where she was admitted. Sullivan said she is lucky to be alive. Her family and friends called the men’s actions a divine intervention.

"I think he’s a an angel. I think he’s been sent... that he was here in the nick of time. I really do. I really appreciate it. I mean, he had to be heaven sent,” said family friend Marietta Dedeaux.

But Cooley doesn’t consider himself a hero.

“I was just a guy who was in the fight place at the right time. and I just, honestly, I didn’t want to have to live with the fact that someone died, and I did nothing about it,” he said.

Wilkerson says he couldn’t have done it alone.

“I couldn’t have done it without Dusty [Cooley] being right here. We kind of play off each other. We work very well together,” he explained.

And now, that work has saved a life.

Sylvia Rediger was listed in stable condition this afternoon at Memorial Hospital, being treated for smoke inhalation.

Meanwhile, her friends at the Pass Christian flea market, where she is a long time vendor, have set up a donation account in her name at any branch of Hancock Bank. Rediger lost most of her possessions in the fire.

According to the fire chief, the fire was caused by a burning candle that was too close to loose paper and books.

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