Anne Arundel County honors fire heroes

Three workers honored for rescuing mother, child from burning building

March 10, 2001|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Christal Hayden met her heroes in a blur of blinding smoke, shooting flames and crashing glass. There was no time for introductions before she dropped her baby from a second-floor window into their arms and then jumped. Yesterday, she was reunited with the three construction workers who saved her and her 6-month-old daughter, Sara Concannon, from her burning duplex in Pasadena last month.

She recognized them immediately. "Those are faces I'll never forget," she said.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens honored the three men yesterday with citations for their heroic deed. County Fire Chief Roger C. Simonds Sr. made them honorary members of the department, giving them departmental hats and T-shirts.

Jenny Hayden, Christal Hayden's mother, told them, "Whether you know it or not, you are honorary godfathers."

Nothing could have pleased one of the men, Gerard "Rodie" Garofalow, more. "I adore children," said Garofalow, father of a 4-year-old daughter. "I'm happy to see the baby healthy and happy."

The last time he saw the 19- year-old mother and her infant, they were covered with soot in the back of an ambulance headed to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where they were treated for smoke inhalation.

On Feb. 13, Hayden was gasping for air at her window when she heard Michael Lysic, 37, Jeff Jones, 37, and Garofalow, 34, of North Arundel Contracting Corp. yelling for her to drop the baby and then jump.

They had seen the smoke just before their first coffee break that morning, and ran down the block to see whether anyone was home.

"We just did what anyone would have done," Jones said.

Lysic said they were in the Jacobsville neighborhood to repair damage from a kitchen fire in another house. "I'm just glad we were there," he said. "Originally, we were supposed to be installing carpet at a church that day."

Investigators have not determined the cause of the blaze, but the family said they believe it was started by careless smoking. The first firefighters arrived just after Hayden and the baby had been carried across the street by their rescuers. Later, the men helped repair a door to the adjacent duplex that firefighters had forced open trying to contain the blaze.

Yesterday, the Hayden house was being rebuilt, and the community, including Christal Hayden's co-workers at McDonald's, had chipped in to help the family replace their belongings, Jenny Hayden said. "We just have so much to be thankful for," she said.

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