FDNY Performs Dramatic Roof Rescue at Blaze

Updated: 03-01-2006 11:13:33 PM

Fire forced a women to climb out of a window on the 25th floor of an apartment building. As she dangled 250 feet in the air, her husband and firefighters struggled to pull her to safety.

It happened at 1700 Bedford Avenue in the Crown Heights, section of Brooklyn. That's where we find Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Sager, live with the story. It is not a time when you want to look down, that's for sure. In fact it's hard to believe anyone could stay clam when they're hanging off the roof of a high rise building. There's no doubt this woman is thankful she is alive.

CherylAnn John, Rescued Fire Victim: "Thank God for that."

'Thank God for that,' is about all you can say when you look at the potentially dreadful situation in Crown Heights just after 3:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Forty-one-year-old CherylAnn John was clinging to the building, just one story from the roof as a smoky fire inside forced CherylAnn and her husband out the 25th story window. Her husband Robert made it to the roof and the held onto his wife's hands for dear life as smoke blew everywhere.

Stacey Sager: "Did you husband say something to you, to keep you going?"

CherylAnn John, Rescued Fire Victim: "He only told me he wouldn't let me go, he wouldn't let me go, and I told him 'please don't let me go, please.'"

Robert John, Husband: "At one point in time I told myself she would drop because my hand was freezing too much, I couldn't hold on much longer."

That's where Tristan Santos came in. He was staying in a building next door and ran up. He also held on to CherylAnn's hand as firefighters Joseph Donatelli, Timmy Rail and Bill Hansen arrived, and they had a rope.

Firefighter Timmy Rail, FDNY Rescue 249: "I can't even describe it. my legs are still shivering, you know, Joe saved a lady's life. She was hanging, literally, by her fingers."

Residents on the ground could be heard shrieking as Donatelli made the daring rescue. Shrieks soon turned to cheers. It's not something these guys do every day, and certainly never at this height.

Firefighter Joseph Donatelli, FDNY Ladder 132: "Only in training, but not for real, no."

Stacey Sager: "Did you look down at any point?"

CherylAnn John, Rescued Fire Victim: "No. I know how high up I was but I didn't look down to see, only looked up to my husband."

Wise choice. There were only minor injures. Mr. and Mrs. John actually don't live in this building, they were just vacationing from Trinidad, and asked just how they were able to stay so calm through all of this, they said it was simple: they do roof work for a living, back in Trinidad.

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Courtesy of WABC 7 Eyewitness News