EXCLUSIVE: Amputee rescued from burning home

June 14, 2011 2:40:56 PM PDT
A disabled man is lucky to be alive, thanks to quick work by two bystanders in Clifton Heights, Delaware County.

It happened at 12:25 Tuesday afternoon. Fire broke out at a home in the 5300 block of Brittany Drive. Heavy smoke was pouring from the house.

"I was out back," said 17-year-old neighborhood resident Andrew Collins. "I was cutting the lawn. I looked down the street and saw smoke."

Collins had the immediate instinct to run down the street to the burning house and help. He is a high school junior and a volunteer firefighter.

Kate O'Neil works at the dentist office next door to the burning house.

"We were in the office and we started smelling smoke," said O'Neil. "We ran out. We saw a lot of smoke coming from his window and we heard him screaming."

O'Neil was talking about Tom Dalton, a double amputee, who was trapped inside the burning home, screaming for help. O'Neil and Collins forced their way through the front door and saw Dalton crawling across the living room floor trying to get out. Together, they rescued him from the burning home.

"There were flames going up the side walls in the living room, pretty close to the subject," said Collins, referring to Dalton. "He was crawling across the floor. We had to pull him out."

"I just heard him screaming, 'Help, help, help!'" said O'Neil. So we grabbed him by his arms and pulled him out of the house."

Fire and rescue crews arrived. Dalton was rushed to Crozer Chester Medical Center and is being treated for cuts and burns. There is no word yet on what caused the fire.