‘My hero,’ woman calls teen who saved her

Published: November 6, 2006 | 5013th good news item since 2003

When Kyle Wagner came home from school Oct. 24, he was coughing and looking for his inhaler.

Nothing unusual there, said Pam Wagner, mother of the gangly 17-year-old Northglenn High School student.

Ever since her son was born prematurely at 3 pounds, 4 ounces, he has struggled with severe asthma and lung problems. [100 Questions and Answers About Asthma]

But this day was a little different. Kyle Wagner started to explain to his mother and grandmother what had just happened.

He told them how he had been walking home with his 8-year-old friend Dante Espinoza when they smelled smoke.

He described how they noticed the smoke was pouring out of 91-year-old Lydia Cooper’s home and how he told Espinoza to call 911.

The teen then calmly recalled how he went into the house, found the woman asleep and connected to her oxygen tank, how he managed to help her crawl out of a room filled with smoke from a pan of burning sauerkraut.

Then he took a squirt of the inhaler and announced, “Well, I’ve got to go back now and talk with the firefighters.” And then he left.

Pam Wagner looked at her mother in disbelief.

“Wow,” she recounted saying. “We’d better get out there.”

When they did, they discovered what firefighters at the scene of the stove fire in the 7500 block of Bryant Street also were beginning to realize: that Kyle Wagner not only had rescued Cooper, a great-great- grandmother, but also had gone back into the home two more times, looking for Cooper’s grandchildren. [Teens 911: Snowbound, Helicopter Crash and Other True Survival Stories]

Fortunately, they were not there. The home had minor damage, and Cooper and Wagner were treated for smoke inhalation.

“He’s my hero,” Cooper said Wednesday, beaming at the teenager as they took part in a news conference on her front lawn. As they air grew cold, she squeezed Wagner’s gloved hand as he stood next to her.

“You’re welcome,” he replied.

“You are one brave young man,” she added.

Cooper said she did not smell the smoke because she was on oxygen.

“I had no idea,” she said. “When he woke me up, I thought I was in a dream. He said, cover your nose. Hurry! Hurry! So I hurried.”

While Westminster Fire Department officials called attention to Wagner’s exploits, he continued to be nonchalant about his actions.

“I just did what the firemen told me you should do – cover your mouth, drop and roll,” he said.

One of the firefighters nominated Wagner for the annual Citizen Lifesaver Award, Deputy Fire Chief Ken Watkins said.

Watkins noted that the fire department does not recommend that citizens rush into burning homes.

“But in this situation, it was brave,” he said. “If it weren’t for Kyle, we don’t know what would have happened.”

Published in Heroes, Kids & Teens, Rescues
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