Tribune-Courier News Editor
GILBERTSVILLE — A Gilbertsville woman gave thanks to a neighbor for saving her brother’s life at a fire that destroyed her mother’s home Wednesday.
Katherine Hazen said her brother Richard Snyder suffers from autism. When the fire broke out around 6:15 a.m., she and husband Jason Lowry were unable to persuade the panicked Snyder from leaving his room. Both Hazen and Lowry were unable to physically remove Richard Snyder from the burning home at 48 Brook Point Road.
“By then, the house was filling up with smoke. My husband and I grabbed some of the dogs and ran outside,” Hazen said. “We called 911 and my husband started to try to break the window so we could get Richard out. We didn’t have anything to break the window with, so my husband used his arm. He had to get several staples from cuts from the glass.”
By then, Lowry was weakened from blood loss and the fire was spreading through the manufactured home. Hazen and Lowry were staying at the home to provide care for Richard while her mother, Joanne Snyder was away. Joanne Snyder was the owner of the manufactured home. Hazen’s neighbor from her Hawkeye Road home arrived to assist. She knew him only as “David.”
“David offered to help. He finished breaking the window and went into the house to get my brother,” Hazen said.
The Marshall County Rescue Squad recognized “David” as James David Ferrell, and lauded his efforts for rescuing Richard Snyder with a Facebook post on Thursday.
Ferrell and neighbor Tim Brinkley worked together to get Richard Snyder out of the home. Brinkley is a volunteer fire fighter.
“If they had not shown up when they did, we would have had no way to get Richard out. My husband was bleeding very badly,” Hazen said. “David really went above and beyond. After the fire, he called my mother to let her know he was safe and stayed with us while we were in the hospital.”
Ferrell said he was a firefighter for Smithland Fire and Rescue for over 15 years. Because of the experience, he plans to join the East Marshall Fire Department.
“When I saw the red glow, the firefighter in me kicked in,” Ferrell said. “I decided to what had to be done, especially when I learned Ricky was still in there. Tim and I had to get him out. At the time, I didn’t really feel any fear because I’d been a firefighter for so many years.”
Hazen added she and her husband were treated at the scene for smoke inhilation. Richard Snyder and Lowry were taken to Marshall County Hospital and treated for smoke inhilation. Lowry received additional treatment for cuts in his arm.
Both Richard and Joanne Snyder are living with Hazen. Hazen said her mother owned the older-model mobile home outright and lost everything. She did not have insurance on the building.
The Doors of Mercy Mission reported it is collecting household items for the Snyders. They need clothing, dog food, money, dishes and household linens. Donations are collected at Doors of Mercy at 2 Prince Lane in Gilbertsville.
Hazen said while her family received some supplies from the Lakes Area Red Cross, more things are needed. Her husband’s glasses and inhaler were lost in the fire. Meanwhile, several family pets were injured in the blaze. She is hopeful of finding a veterinarian that will treat the animals and offer a payment plan.
The family has not been told the cause of the fire, though Hazen says an electrical circuit breaker was on the deck where the fire began. Investigators questioned her about the condition of the breaker.
“ My brother would not be alive if they hadn’t been here,” Hazen said, thanking Ferrell and Brinkley again.