This firefighter attended the graduation of a girl he narrowly saved 17 years ago, when she was in her crib as a nine-month-old infant.
Mike Hughes — who is now retired from the job of saving lives — rescued Dawnielle Davison, who is now 18, from the burning home.
The veteran firefighter remembers the day vividly, as he noticed the infant still in her crib while the fire raged out of control in the rest of the home. Davison’s crib was surrounded by flames and the tiny little girl was overwhelmed with the smoke.
“The room was full of hot smoke. Another 20 seconds and it would have been a different outcome.” the firefighter recalls, saying he had a hunch to go into that particular room, not knowing he would find the baby girl. That was the first room he checked for possible victims and Dawnielle got very lucky.
It’s not that the 61-year-old firefighter kept in touch with the graduating young woman all these years, but when he found an old newspaper clipping of his actions that day, he decided to try and reconnect with her using social media. He found her five years ago.
“I thought, ‘I wonder if that baby I pulled out of that fire is still alive and kicking.’ So I just got on Facebook and looked her name up and presto, there she was. I thought it would be fun to say hi.”
For her part, Davison told TODAY that she had never been told she was so close to death when she was not even a year old. Once the shock of the information passed, she was grateful that someone who had saved her life cared so much that he would go through the trouble of finding where she was now and what had become of her.
“I feel like I owe him a lot,” the 18-year-old told the NBC show about the firefighter.
“This was a special, special deal. This is a rare occurrence, the way this situation worked out,” Hughes says of the fire that almost took Dawnielle’s life.
“For some reason that doesn’t feel like me,” Dawnielle says. “It’s really hard to believe some times.”
Davison invited the firefighter to attend her graduation this past weekend, as a gesture of gratitude and appreciation for what he did for her all those years ago.
“(It’s) really emotional,” Davison told KOMO News fighting tears. “I don’t know really how to describe it, they’re happy tears, to realize some things could have gone wrong.”
Hughes told ABC News he was also deeply touched that the girl wanted to invite him to her graduation.
“She sent me an invitation so I thought, ‘By golly, I’m going,” he said. “It meant an awful lot to me. I was really happy.”
The firefighter added that of the numerous fires he has battled, the 1998 house fire has always stayed with him for some reason.
“That was a classic fire-rescue combination,” Hughes said. “The operation went perfectly. There wasn’t a single thing we could have done differently.”
Davison says that she will definitely stay in touch with the firefighter who saved her life and is eternally grateful that he was the one who came into her burning home.
[Image via Mike Hughes]