4 Teens Rushed Into a Burning Home to Try to Save a 90-Year-Old Woman

By Zachary Stieber

Four Oklahoma teenagers are being praised for going into a burning house to try to save a 90-year-old woman who was inside.

Catherine Ritchie was in her Tulsa home recently when a fire started.

“I turned around, and my bed, the head of my bed, was covered in flames,” Ritchie told KTUL.

Four teen boys were near the house when they noticed the fire.

“It smelled kind of like burning rubber. Then, we heard the house alarm go off,” said Dylan Wick, 16.

Ritchie was trying to douse the flames but failed and called 911. At that point, things started getting dicey.

Firefighters and a fire truck in a file photo. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)

“She made an attempt to extinguish the flames herself by throwing blankets and pillows on the fire,” Ritchie’s daughter wrote in a blog post. “The smoke and heat were so overwhelming that she immediately got disoriented, gave up fighting the fire, and decided to flee. She pushed the emergency call button she wears on her necklace, called 911, and attempted to get out of her now engulfed bedroom.”

“She walked into the closet several times thinking it was the door that leads to the hallway,” she added. “It wasn’t. She couldn’t find her way out. She was stuck. Smoke everywhere.”

“The smoke was so bad, I couldn’t see to get out of my room,” Ritchie told KTUL. “I felt along the wall, and I went into the closet instead of the door to get out of the room. I finally did get to the door.”

Ritchie managed to get out of her room but was then in a hallway full of smoke.

Her daughter said that the four teens all jumped into action.

“One started breaking the glass on the front door. One called 911. One went to the back door and began kicking it in. One went to the neighbors for an ax and help. Within minutes, a door was kicked in by a 14-year-old child who found my mother in the hallway outside of her bedroom and picked her up in his arms,” she wrote.

In addition to Wick, the other three saviors were identified as, 14-year-old Nick Byrd, 16-year-old Seth Byrd, and 17-year-old Wyatt Hall.

“Thank you for your selfless acts of heroism and courage. Thank you for not allowing this to be the tragic end to our mother’s amazing life. Thank you for staying with her, hugging her, and helping her feel less alone until we could get to her. Thank you for being the kind of young men who thought about another person above yourselves,” Ritchie’s daughter wrote in the post.

“Thank you for staying safe yourselves as well. Thank you to your parents who obviously raised you in such a way that lead to you making life saving and heroic decisions on behalf of someone else. Thank you for more than we know how to thank you for! We will forever be indebted to the time you bought for us and the example you set for us. God Bless each of you for being such a blessing to us.”

Ritchie’s granddaughter, Jennifer Sontag, told CNN that while the elderly woman was affected by what happened, she has been carrying on with her life. Ritchie spends a lot of time volunteering with charities including the Salvation Army and the Boys and Girls Club.

Wick’s mother told the outlet that her son wants to be a firefighter and that desire is even stronger after what happened, while Hall’s mother said that her son had been told to keep an eye out for his neighbors, so she wasn’t surprised when she learned what took place.