When Newark Mayor Cory Booker isn't personally shoveling constituents' driveways or donating kidneys to homeless people (only one of those is a joke) he's rushing into burning buildings to save neighbors' lives. Last night Booker arrived home to find the second floor of the house next door going up in flames, and no firefighters or EMS in sight. Naturally, he shoved past his security detail and dashed into the inferno.
Newark Police Detective Alex Rodriguez, who works on the mayor's security detail, says he first tried to stop Booker from entering the burning house. "He basically told me, 'This woman is going to die if we don't help her,' and what can I say to that?," Rodriguez told CBS 2. "I let him go and without thinking twice, he just ran into the flames and rescued this young lady." In an interview this morning, Booker recalls the rescue:
I actually wasn't thinking. When I got there and couldn't find her in all the smoke, looked behind me and saw the kitchen really erupting with flames all over the ceiling, that's when I had very clear thoughts that I'm not going to get out of this place alive and got ... very religious. It is a very, very scary thing.
And I'd like to say that I, at that point I was feeling so courageous, but honestly, it was terrifying, and to look back, you can see nothing but flames. Look in front of you see nothing but blackness. Thankfully she started yelling out to me and I was able to find her through all the smoke. At that point I grabbed her. I just sort of threw her over my shoulder and dragged her through the kitchen.
Booker said there were several moments where he feared he wouldn't be able to get out, and that he almost decided to jump out the second story window. But he managed to battle through the smoke and the flames to get the woman out, with the help of Rodriguez, and the two men then collapsed outside. They were both taken to the hospital with smoke inhalation, and Booker also sustained second degree burns on one hand. The woman was listed in stable condition with burns to her back and neck.
Thanks 2 all who are concerned. Just suffering smoke inhalation. We got the woman out of the house. We are both off to hospital. I will b ok
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 13, 2012
Newark Fire Chief John Centanni tells the Star-Ledger, "It was a very successful rescue actually. The situation could have been definitely a tragedy because it was just getting started." Of course, Booker's no hero—any other Mayor in America would have done exactly the same thing in his situation! Who could forget the time Mayor Bloomberg single-handedly defused a bomb strapped to that bus full of nuns?