School for blind worker killed in Havertown fire; off-duty officer helps rescue family

HAVERTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- A Delaware County woman who worked at a school for the blind was not able to make it out of a house fire despite the best efforts of an off-duty police officer, firefighters, and neighbors.

The victim in Friday night's fire in Havertown has been identified as Roseann McLaughlin, the Health Services Coordinator at the Overbrook School for the Blind.

Roseann McLaughlin was killed during a two-alarm house fire Friday evening in Havertown, Delaware County.

The two-alarm fire started before 6 p.m. inside McLaughlin's home, located on the 900 blocks of Larchmont Avenue. McLaughlin, her daughter, and grandson were trapped inside.

Neighbors say McLaughlin had difficulty walking.

Brookline Fire Department Chief John Viola said she became trapped on the first floor.

Havertown residents said the flames were at least 8 to 10 feet high coming out of the house

"And the front door, the front door was totally engulfed in red flames," Dunleavy said.

McLaughlin's daughter and grandson were able to make it onto the second floor roof, but remained trapped.

That's when off-duty Upper Darby Police Officer Mike DeHoratius arrived on the scene.

DeHoratius, on his way to his daughter' cheer practice, drove by the burning home and stopped to intervene.

McLaughlin's daughter told DeHoratius she was fine, but her mother was trapped in the back.

"So I ran around the back of the house, at which point the whole first floor was fully engulfed. I was able to get about five to six feet in, but I was pushed back twice," DeHoratius said.

DeHoratius spent 19 years as a firefighter. He knew he needed to go to back for those trapped on the roof.

"The fire was coming out of the front porch where the young mom and child were. So, there was another neighbor next to me; she basically tossed her young child to the neighbor and they fell to the ground - he broke the child's fall," DeHoratius said. "And she (McLaughlin's daughter) was a little hesitant, but I told her 'come on' and she just jumped down and I was able to break her fall and I got them out of that area."

Despite the successful rescue of two family members, Roseann McLaughlin couldn't be saved.

"This is one that ended in tragedy. There were two people that we were able to help, but it's hurtful to the neighborhood and me," DeHoratius said.

Neighbors say the block came together to help.

"The neighbors were so great. All the neighbors chipped in to get together some clothes," added Dunleavy.

Action News is told the family has lived on the block for many years.
So far, there is no word on what caused the blaze.
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