Milwaukee Citizens Rescue Boy from Burning SUV


Earlier this week off-duty Milwaukee firefighters Joel and John Rechlitz, off-duty police Lt. Mark Wroblewski and neighbors worked together to save a mother and her two children from their burning SUV.

The SUV had slammed into a tree and burst into flames. The 32-year-old mother, Angela Baldessari, was able to pass her two-year-old daughter, Beverly Harper, through the top of the SUV. She then escaped through the windshield after it was smashed open. However, David ‘DJ’ Harper, only four-years-old, was still trapped in his car seat.

John, who usually carries a pocketknife with him, did not have one at the time of the accident. Luckily, a local came through with a pocket knife. After cutting the seat belt restraints from the boy’s body the brothers were able to save him, suffering burns to their hands and forearms.

“If that person didn’t come forth with that pocket knife, things would have been different. If that lady didn’t come through with the garden hose, the burns sustained to that child would have been much more severe,” Joel Rechlitz of the Milwaukee Fire Department said.

“Officer Wroblewski, with bringing the fire extinguishers, gave us five to then seconds, and five to ten seconds made the difference between this boy living and dying,” Rechlitz added.

DJ had burns, many considered third-degree, over 20 percent of his body covering most of his scalp, upper back and upper extremities and less severe burns on his face. As of Tuesday he was in “serious condition but stable” at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

A time ago it was very common to have average citizens carry pocketknives but not so much today. Luckily on the day of this horrible accident someone was carrying a pocketknife. No one ever expects to be put in one of these situations but there are some inexpensive rescue tools that wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider having on you or accessible in your car such as a seatbelt cutter, window punch, or a lifesaver hammer.

With today’s technology quite a bit of the dramatic rescue was caught on film. It’s chilling and heartbreaking to watch.