News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A 2-year-old boy will be laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon. On Tuesday night, commissioners honored the firefighters who saved his life.
John Thompson's highchair now sits empty next to his stuffed animals covered in ashes. A message of love in spray paint reads, "RIP Little John 2-16-13. Our little angel."
It's a bittersweet honor for the firefighters who saved John.
"The kid did receive a lot of smoke inhalation and stuff. I did my best," said Lt. Ralph Jenkins.
Jenkins got choked up remembering what happened that night on Carr Street, and he's just one of several firefighters who helped rescue the 2-year-old from his fiery home.
"You wish you could do more. I was glad we got there when we did and we could do what we could," said Lt. Daniel Rigdon.
But in John's case, it was too late.
"Sometime we make a save, and sometime we don't," Jenkins said.
As soon as firefighters got to the scene, they ran inside, which is when everything went black. The smoke was just that thick.
"One guy went right, and I went left. We found the baby on the mattress by feeling for him," Rigdon said. "I handed him to the first person I saw. I couldn't see at all. It's all voice."
John died a few days later, and on Tuesday, the firefighters were recognized for their bravery.
"The award really doesn't mean much to me at all. They just give me a piece of paper for my job," Rigdon said.
"I appreciate the award. I appreciate somebody looking out for things we do," Jenkins said.
In his 30-year career, Jenkins has made five saves. Rigdon has two.
But for these local heroes, all that pales in light of a little boy who used to call this place home.
The following firefighters were honored on Tuesday: