First Arriving Network
First Arriving Network

Off-Duty FF’s Burned During Heroic Rescue

A SINGLE-CAR ACCIDENT IN MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, SUNDAY AFTERNOON had a 32-yr.-old mother and her two children ages 2 and 4 trapped inside as it started burning.  Fortunately for the family, they wrecked in a residential neighborhood where two Milwaukee firefighters live.  The men are brothers also, John and Joel Rechlitz were both off-duty yesterday and at home when it happened.  They, along with an off-duty police officer, dashed to the accident scene and rescued the three victims, but not before both brothers received 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns.

A passer-by had a video camera and calmly recorded the fantastic rescue.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes it:

The video shows the 1992 Chevrolet Blazer on its left side near S. 22nd Place and W. Layton Ave., its back half engulfed in flames and black smoke.

Two men eventually use metal pipes to break through the windshield, freeing the woman, who is a 32-year-old Tennessee resident, and her 2-year-old daughter.

They suffered minor injuries, police said.

The woman’s 4-year-old son was still trapped inside.

Two brothers – John and Joel Rechlitz, who are Milwaukee firefighters and were off duty – were notified of the fire by one of their wives, who lives near the scene and saw the crash, said Tiffany Wynn, a Fire Department spokeswoman.

The video shows the off-duty firefighters trying to reach the boy through the windshield while off-duty police Lt. Mark Wroblewski sprays a fire extinguisher into the vehicle.

At one point the entire upper body of one of the off-duty firefighters is inside the vehicle before he pulls the boy out of the SUV.

The boy suffered burns to at least 30% of his body and was in surgery Sunday night at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, according to police and fire officials. His condition was not available.

WTMJ-TV has the dramatic video:

Read the full story in the Journal Sentinel HERE.

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