Harrison Co. woman gets reunion with man who pulled her from burning trailer

Sylvia Rediger, 74, nearly lost her life in a fire, if not for two men who pulled her from her burning mobile home, breaking down the door.
Updated: May. 2, 2019 at 8:51 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A 74-year old Harrison County woman is still recovering from the fire that almost took her life last month. Two men rushed to pull her from the burning mobile home, breaking down the door. Now, three weeks later, out of the hospital and rehab, Sylvia Rediger took time Thursday to thank one of them for their bravery.

Rediger was all smiles meeting her benefactor, Dusty Cooley, but there were no smiles on April 7.

“I put my hand through the cat flap door, and I could see smoke rolling out, but I also heard somebody on the other side of the door," Rediger said.

That somebody was Cooley. Rediger was overcome with emotion.

“I owe this man everything, everything. And as far as I’m concerned, I told him before, he gets a dozen cookies every month, whatever he wants. I am so, so thankful dear," she said.

Saving her life has changed Cooley’s own life as well.

“The first time I saw her, she was all smiles and shaking with joy, and it just hit me. It was very humbling," he said.

Rediger knows a hero when she see one. She looked over what remains of her home, a home she could have been trapped in, could have died in.

“Yeah, they are heroes in the true sense of the word, but I think, now that I know who it was, I think he would have done what he did for anybody," she said.

Cooley doesn’t consider himself a hero, but something else.

“If anything, a man of action. A lot of people ask me why I did it, or how I did it, and it really starts with doing the small things. Helping others in small ways," he said.

Rediger has a long road to recovery, and Cooley has a message for others.

“I’m hoping that the community will be heroes in a sense and maybe help out in that aspect," he said.

No matter what, he said a special bond has been formed between the two.

“ I plan on checking up on her often now. I feel like I have an obligation to her now," Cooley said.

Rediger’s obligation was writing a letter to Cooley’s superiors in the Army National Guard, praising his heroism and nominating him for a commendation. Now she has a lifelong friend.

“Whether I move away from here, stay here, whatever the situation, he’s a part of my life," she said.

It is a life that was saved.

The other man credited with saving Rediger’s life is Trevor Wilkerson, who works in the cardiac unit at Memorial Hospital. He was not able to make it to the reunion.

By the way, Rediger needs a new place to stay and has incurred high medical bills for her treatment. A Go Fund Me account has been set up in her name for anyone hoping to help.

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