SEFFNER, Fla. — The 9-year-old rescued from his burning home last month said he is grateful for another chance.
Owen Ares has spent nearly two weeks recovering from smoke inhalation and second-degree burns at TGH Children's Hospital.
His home caught on fire around 11 p.m. on May 19 in Seffner.
Deputy Kevin Reich and Deputy Alexander Maldonado with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office pulled the young boy to safety.
They encouraged the child to follow their voices and flashlights so he could reach a window.
"Thank you because they saved my life that night," Ares said. "It was kind of hard because I saw their hand and there was like so much smoke in my eyes, I could barely see and he said come to the light and I did because they broke down the window."
Body camera footage released by the sheriff's office showed the two deputies breaking several windows and inhaling smoke as they reached inside to search for Owen.
His mother Karen McGinnis said she finally watched the footage.
"There has been a lot of times in the last couple of weeks where I do close my eyes, I'll have visions of what happened that night...it has been very challenging to watch," McGinnis said.
McGinnis said doctors expect her son to fully recover. Owen is no longer sedated and doctors removed the ventilator. The second-degree burns on his hands and arms are healing. Nurses are helping him regain his strength by walking.
Therapy dogs visited Owen Wednesday. He also regained his appetite and enjoyed McDonald's.
“Thank you because they saved my life that night,” said 9-year-old Owen Aires after two @HCSOSheriff deputies rescued him from a house fire last month. Today, Owen is off a ventilator and met two therapy dogs. pic.twitter.com/kktJnwXrg1— Julie Salomone (@JSalomoneTV) June 2, 2022
"There were so many moments along this journey from the time I couldn't get him out of the window up until the ventilator came off that I wasn't sure if my one and only child, my baby, was going to make it," McGinnis said.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue ruled the fire "accidental" and said the cause of the fire is "undetermined." The fire started from an unattended fire pit or electrical issue.
McGinnis urges families to create an emergency plan and test their smoke detectors. She credits the deputies and staff at Tampa General Hospital for saving her son.
"It's with every moving part that has given Owen his life back," McGinnis said. "I said, 'please, please pray for Owen, please because I know the power of prayer works.'"