NewsPasco County


Firefighters reunite with little girl they rescued from deadly fire, years after helping during her birth

Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 28, 2020

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. -- A little girl who survived a deadly house fire is out of the hospital and reuniting with the firefighters and paramedics that helped revive her.

But it turns out, it's not the first time they've helped 3-year-old Alani Jiles.

"Hey Alani. Hey, pretty girl," Pasco County Fire Rescue Captain Rhiannon Rutzen said as they saw Alani for the first time since the fire.

Earlier this month, Jiles, her grandather, Donald Maier, 61, and brother, Zayden Maier, 4, were asleep when a fire broke out at their Dade City house. Firefighters pulled all three from the house. Despite life saving measures, Donald and Zayden didn't survive. Alani was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Rutzen helped get Alani from the house, and said she handed her to firefighter and paramedic Sean Messer.

"That’s her guardian angel," said Alani's mother, Emily Maier.

They all later realized the same firefighters who helped revive Alani helped her after her birth.

"I literally just started crying and just thought how ironic," said Rutzen.

Maier said when she was in labor with Alani, she realized she wasn't going to make it to the hospital and ended up giving birth in the bathroom of the family's home. Messer cut her umbilical cord.

"They saved my baby girl’s life not once but twice and they’re definitely a hero in her life and in mine too," said Maier.

Maier said Monday night Alani was released to the hospital and is now back to herself.

"She's living proof miracles happen," she said.

So Friday morning, the firefighters welcomed the family to their home, the fire station.

"It’s full circle and just seeing her life when she was first born to basically being reborn," said Messer.

They surprised her with unicorn cupcakes reading, "Princess Alani," let her sit in the fire truck, ring the bell, wear a helmet and take a tour. Alani and the firefighters were all smiles.

"Obviously that was a very tragic night and it’s something she’s gonna have to live with for a long time she’s gonna have a lot of pain from that but there’s one little miracle something she can focus on one good thing that happened that night. So for us that’s the same thing we’re doing," said Rutzen.

Maier said she hopes firefighters remain a presence in her daughter's life, adding she thinks Alani likes them. Knowing there's still pain and tragedy, they all say Alani is a source of inspiration and light in a difficult time.

"Watching her wake up and smile being herself it helps makes everything a lot easier to deal with," Maier said.