Just days before Mother’s Day, a fire broke out in a Haverhill, Mass., apartment complex that forced 23-year-old Christina Simoes to grab her toddler and jump off the balcony. Using her body as a shield, she protected the 18-month-old from the three-story fall, which left her with a broken back.
“I grabbed my son and I held him as tight as I could to my chest, and I gave him a kiss and a hug, and I told him I loved him, and I jumped out the window,” Simoes told CBS Boston Sunday while lying in her hospital bed.
The mother awaits life-altering news from doctors to find out if she’ll ever be able to walk again. Simoes is currently suffering from severe back injuries, though she says she is grateful all Cameron had was a small bruise on his head.
"I don't think that I'm any special hero at all. I'm just Cameron's mom," Simoes said.
She said she was lying with her son when all of a sudden she saw smoke in her window. She jumped up and realized there were flames only 10 feet from where she was standing. Once she landed, the danger was still threatening she and her son.
"I didn't think about it. All I was thinking about was getting him out of there. He mattered way more than I did," she said.
Simoes used her arm to crawl she and her son’s way to safety as debris from the fire continued to fall around them. “I kept telling him to run,” Simoes recalled.
She didn’t think about the possibility of the 30-ft fall shattering her vertebrae, causing her to go through a six-hour surgery and leaving her with the unknown possibility of paralysis for the rest of her life.
Simoes, though seriously injured, is one of the lucky ones. On average, someone dies in a fire every 169 minutes in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 85 percent of those deaths by fire occurred in homes. Most victims die from smoke or toxic gas inhalation.
“All the pain, all of this that I’m going to go through is worth it to see him run around and play,” Simoes said. “We lost everything, but that doesn't matter to me because I have all that matters.”
Cameron was brought to the hospital to visit his mom on Mother’s Day, where she lay on her hospital bed just grateful for the safety of her son.
“It’s amazing. I wouldn’t put it past her. I wouldn’t put it past any mom,” the baby’s father, Tyler Strangman, told CBS News.