A 19-year-old man is being lauded as a hero after his attempts to save a 3-year-old girl from his high-rise residential building that had gone up in flames.
Tragically, both the teenager, Lucas Silverio, and the little girl – whose name was Yasleen McDonald, according to multiple outlets – died from their injuries within days after Silverio ran back in to try to bring her out of the building.
WABC reports that Silverio and his cousin Jeury Mendoza were helping their grandmother down from one of the top floors of their building in Bronx, New York, when Silverio noticed McDonald had gotten separated from her mother and went back to attempt to retrieve her.
“Lucas told Jeury, ‘Bro, take mamma downstairs, I’m gonna go back and get the little girl,’ ” Silverio’s second cousin Jesse Alvarez told WABC. “Upon retrieving the little girl there was an explosion that rendered him unconscious.”
Fox News reports that the flames erupted just before 2 a.m. local time in the 16-story building, which is located at 725 Garden St., according to the New York City Fire Department.
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The New York Daily News reports that Silverio rushed back up to the 14th floor toward the sound of McDonald’s voice, and eventually made it out of the building and handed her over to firefighters and EMTs.
According to the outlet, both McDonald and Silverio suffered burns over 80 percent of their bodies, and McDonald succumbed to her injuries and smoke inhalation on Monday at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. Silverio died on Wednesday at Jacobi Medical Center, WABC reports.
“He had a beautiful spirit and a heart of gold,” Alvarez told the New York Daily News of his cousin. “He had a heart the size of this planet. I want New Yorkers to take away that a hero died, and that hero’s name was Lucas Silverio.”
While it’s still unknown what exactly initiated the fire, Fox News reports that fire officials said it began inside a trash compactor located on the building’s 14th floor.
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“I was shocked that a 19-year-old would go into the fire,” Willie Colon, McDonald’s great-uncle, told the New York Daily News. “That guy is going to be in my heart forever.”
Added Luis Moreno, McDonald’s uncle, in an interview with Fox News, “Of course he tried his best. I applaud him. He died bravely. He was in his apartment and he heard her crying. I wish it could have turned out different.”
The New York Daily News reports that McDonald’s funeral will be held Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time at the Bronx’s Rivera Funeral Home, while services for Silverio are set for Friday at the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home.
Silverio’s second cousin Tony Lexus has set up a GoFundMe to assist his family in the wake of the tragedy. As of Thursday morning, the fundraiser had raised almost $1,500 of its $100,000 goal.