Good Samaritans honored for burning building rescue

January 11, 2012 12:09:40 PM PST
Two good Samaritans who saved an elderly Union City couple from their burning home were honored as heroes Wednesday. It was an emotional first reunion between the fire victims and their saviors.

"You don't see people like that too much anymore," said 86-year-old Sam Haley, describing the actions taken by a couple of complete strangers last week after Haley's Union City home, where he'd lived since 1961, caught fire.

Twenty-five-year-old Kevin Ricketts and 25-year-old Jonathon Baldwin, both of Fremont, were working nearby. The two were a mile and a half away, but when they saw the smoke, they went there to see if they could help out.

"They subsequently found Mr. and Mrs. Haley in the side yard trying to exit the property with flames and smoke coming out of the house, it was obstructing their access to a gate that had to be opened from the front yard," said Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert.

"I asked if anybody else was left in the house and he said no one was left in the house, but he did mention that he had two cats that were in there," said Baldwin.

Haley's main concern was his 77-year-old wife who he had rescued from the house moments before.

"I just kind of grabbed her up and dragged her because she is a semi-invalid," said Haley. "When we got outside I don't know where she went."

Ricketts knew where she had gone.

"I rushed the wife over to the neighbor's house next door and she went inside and she stuck around and was talking to the fire department," said Ricketts.

"He took care of her very well," said Haley.

In recognition, the two received certificates of commendation for doing something that turned a possible tragedy into something else entirely.