Back in her home of Puerto Rico, those who knew 31-year -old Meralys Velasquez say she did what any parent would do when she realized Wednesday as her aparment caught fire, that her kids 8-year-old Ethan and 10-year-old Sofia weren’t with her. She ran right back in to find them.
Sadly, she couldn’t save them or herself from the flames.
“She’s a hero, save her children. Imagine!” says her father, Ezequiel Velazquez, who still lives in Puerto Rico. “So hard, but God knows everything!”
Choking back tears, Meralys’s father says he can’t imagine what the three of them went through in their final moments.
“It’s like part of our heart is gone,” he says.
Back in Tampa, Meralys’s roommate says her kids were her world.
“She was a good mom. She, like every mom, you just want what’s best for your kids,” says Carmela Ortiz.
Neighbors at the Captiva Club Apartments are holding a public vigil Saturday starting at 7:00 p.m.