On Sunday, June 9, a 19-year-old college student awoke to find his New York City tower block on fire, and leapt into action to assist other residents.
After successfully getting his grandmother to safety, without a second thought Lucas Silverio raced straight back inside the burning Bronx building to save a 3-year-old neighbour he’d spotted in distress while trying to escape.
Despite his heroic attempt, both 19-year-old Lucas and 3-year-old Yasleen McDonald died in the days that followed due to injuries sustained in the fire.
Yasleen had become separated from her mother in the chaos, which saw Silverio make his way back up to the building’s 14th floor to rescue the infant.
As reported by ABC7, Lucas and Yasleen collapsed on their way out due to severe smoke inhalation – with the pair suffering burns over 80% of their bodies.
Heartbreakingly, despite them both making it out of the building alive, they died in the days that followed the incident.
Yasleen passed away on Monday, the day after the fire, while Silverio died on Wednesday at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.
19-year-old Lucas Silverio killed by a fire in his Bronx building because he refused to let a 3-year-old girl perish alone. Raced back up 14 floors in smoke-filled stairwell, pulled her from building. She died a day later. Lucas succumbed to his injuries yesterday. Tonight at 11p pic.twitter.com/IrR9Eg4dqr
— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) June 13, 2019
Talking with ABC7, Silverio’s cousin Jesse Alarez said:
He was a wonderful human being, A heart of gold. His heart was the size, it couldn’t fit in his body.
During the fire, Silverio’s cousin Jeury Mendoza helped carry their grandmother down to safety – which is when Lucas spotted Yasleen.
Lucas told Jeury, ‘bro take mamma downstairs, I’m gonna go back and get the little girl.
Jeury, who was also badly burned in the blaze, shared his thoughts on his late cousin’s bravery.
Speaking through a translator, he said:
He didn’t care about his own life in that moment. He cared about saving that girl, who was so innocent. He’s a hero in my eyes.
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) June 13, 2019
It is believed that someone may have thrown something combustible into the building’s rubbish compactor, which ignited and caused the huge blaze – but the exact cause of the fire still remains under investigation.
Eleven more building residents were injured in the tragic fire, but fortunately there were no other fatalities.
A real hero, Lucas was a college student who was studying to become a health aide. True to his character, he lost his life in an attempt to save someone else’s.
Both families have set up GoFundMe pages to help support them following the incident.
Lucas’ family have so far raised $6,589 to help pay his medical costs, while Yasleen’s family have raised $4,854 – which the page states will help ‘alleviate the financial burden of everything lost in this fire and allow them to grieve with just a little less stress.’
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.