ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA/NBC) — A Florida deputy who risked his life to rescue a toddler from a burning building reunited with the little girl he saved this week.
Deputy William Puzymski with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office was one of the deputies who responded to a fire at an Orlando apartment building early Saturday morning. Body camera video showed him leap into action to save a 2-year-old child on a third-floor balcony of the building.
Deputy Puzymski scaled the burning building to get to the child. He’s heard on body camera video shouting, “we’re coming! Hand me your baby!”
“He’s like, ‘give me the baby, give me the baby’ as he’s climbing and trying to get himself sturdy,” the child’s mother, Barbara Elenus, said. “And I’m like, ‘ugh, I don’t know, I don’t want to give you my baby.'”
Elenus did eventually hand her child, 2-year-old Sophie, over to the deputy. Puzymski lowered himself and the young girl to safety.
“That deputy is my hero, he’s changed my outlook on law enforcement,” Elenus said. “He was prepared to lose his life to save my life and my children.”
Sophie’s siblings, including her 13-year-old brother Jeremiah, had already managed to get out of the building. They saw the rescue happening.
“I saw the officer climbing up and I heard him talking about passing Sophie down and that was scary,” he said.
The mother of four reunited Tuesday with the first responders who helped save her family. She said nothing was salvageable after the fire and they’re temporarily living in a hotel.
“I just pray that me and the kids have a place to call home and live and feel safe,” Elenus said.
For now, though, she said she’s just grateful for the first responders who saved her.
“I’m just happy to be alive and I’m here to share my story.”