Woman rescued in Madisonville fire says fallen 30-year veteran l - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Woman rescued in Madisonville fire says fallen 30-year veteran likely saved her

Daryl Gordon, from the City of Cincinnati. Daryl Gordon, from the City of Cincinnati.
Crews rescued several residents from a top floor balcony of the King Towers Apartment complex (FOX19) Crews rescued several residents from a top floor balcony of the King Towers Apartment complex (FOX19)
"I'm just so sorry, so sad that he had to pass away. He died from saving our lives," Whitley said (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Brett Hoffland) "I'm just so sorry, so sad that he had to pass away. He died from saving our lives," Whitley said (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Brett Hoffland)
MADISONVILLE, OH (FOX19) -

As smoke poured through the King Towers apartment complex on Thursday, a mother and her three month old son were saved just in time.

That woman believes it was likely fallen 30-year fire veteran Daryl Gordon who saved their lives. He died Thursday as he searched for victims inside a burning Madisonville apartment complex.

Thursday morning, Ashley Whitley was focused on one thing, getting her first and only child to safety as their apartment filled with thick smoke. Whitley says at one point, she didn't think she and her three-month-old baby would make it out alive.

"Tell her to try and get to a spot where she can get some air and take a couple deep breaths if she can," dispatch told Whitley's family.

While family members were on the phone with 911, Whitley waited anxiously on her fifth floor balcony, but that wasn't much better.

"My balcony from the first floor coming up is straight black, thick smoke. I'm yelling off the balcony help, help, help! I have my three-month-old son up here, we need some help, it is so smoky up here I cannot breathe," Whitley said. 

"Command this is search and rescue: I've got Heavy Rescue 14 on the way to 557."

Heavy Rescue 14, was Gordon's unit. Whitley says she's confident it was Gordon himself who came to her rescue.

"I really couldn't see his name tag or anything like that because it was so smoky in the hallways but I really believe he was the one," Whitley said.

Whitley says firefighters escorted the two down the stairs and out of harm's way and that they were the last residents out of the building.

"They were like everything is going to be okay. You are okay. I was like thank you, thank you for getting us out," Whitley said.

Minutes later, tragedy hit on the fifth floor where Whitley lived.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday, we have a firefighter down. He went down the shaft, fifth floor," according to firefighter radio traffic.

[Related: Minute by Minute: What happened inside burning Madisonville apartment complex]

Firefighter Gordon fell down the open elevator shaft losing his life while saving others.

"I'm just so sorry, so sad that he had to pass away. He died from saving our lives," Whitley said.

Whitley and her three-month-old were treated for smoke inhalation and the baby was just released from the hospital on Friday. They have all their belongings still in the apartment, and were told it's going to be a few more days before they can retrieve everything.

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