SEFFNER, Fla. — Parents of a 9-year-old boy said he's recovering at Tampa General Hospital after a house fire in Seffner Thursday night.
A heart-stopping video shared by the sheriff's office showed body camera footage from deputies as they pulled the boy from the burning home.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) said deputies first arrived at the house fire at 9937 Joe Ebert Road at 10:48 p.m. They found the home fully engulfed with neighbors and the 9-year-old boy's mother and the mother's boyfriend standing in the front yard.
Video shared by the sheriff's office showed the deputies, who arrived before firefighters, running toward the burning home as people told them a child was still inside. His mother Karen McGinnis could be heard screaming her son's name, "Owen."
McGinnis said Owen's injuries are not as critical as first believed. The child suffered second-degree burns on his face and arms. He is currently on a ventilator after suffering from smoke inhalation.
“I’m very grateful we are alive and Owen is alive," McGinnis said.
Deputies Kevin Reich and Alexander Maldonado forced entry by breaking a glass window leading to Owen's room and worked to direct the 9-year-old toward the open window. Three minutes later, Deputy Reich felt Owen's arm and reached in through the window to pull the boy out to safety.
“This young boy was minutes away from perishing from this fire," HCSO Sheriff Chad Chronister said. "This child is alive today because of their heroic actions."
Deputy Maldonado said he will never forget the moment he and Deputy Reich realized Owen was alive.
“We started calling out 'hey buddy can you hear us? Hey buddy can you come to the light? Hey, buddy come to our voice?' A little after that, we heard him cough and cry and groan so we knew he was in that room it was just a matter of where in the room and how far he was. Once we were able to find him and pull him out, it was just relief and happiness," Maldonado said.
HCFR said crews had the fire under control in 16 minutes. Crews searched the home two more times and found no one else inside.
McGinnis said the family's home is a total loss. However, she expressed her gratitude for the first-responders multiple times.
“This is a very stark reminder that stuff is stuff — we have everything we need,” she said.
Owen attends Apollo Beach Elementary and plays football. His dad said his son aspires to attend the University of Florida and then play in the NFL.
The two deputies who got the boy out, Reich and Maldonado, were evaluated by EMS but were not transported.
"I could not be more proud of the quick actions and bravery these deputies displayed, never giving up until they were able to pull the child to safety. It is because of their heroism that this young boy made it out alive," said Sheriff Chronister. "Law enforcement officers are often the first to respond to any emergency scene, so we must always be ready to jump in and help. These deputies never hesitated. They are true examples of what it means to be a hero."
When Maldonado was asked, during a press conference, what his thoughts were when Sheriff Chronister called him a hero and knowing that others may say the same thing he responded, "we're just doing our job."
HCFR said there were no other injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation.