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A Hero's Story: Troy woman runs into burning building to save child

Reported by: Katherine Underwood

Videographer: M. Jackson
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Updated: 8/01/2012 3:58 am
She’s being called a hero - not only by her fellow community members, but by police as well.

Shontal Gaymon, 29, ran into a burning apartment to save her neighbor’s little girl.

The fire broke out July 8th and Shontal was just released from the hospital last week.

We finally got a chance to talk with Shontal over the phone as she recovers with her family in New York City.

She tells us she is a stay-at-home mom with an eight-year-old autistic son, and what she did that night was just her motherly-instincts kicking in.

“I really can’t explain how I felt, at the moment when I couldn't get out, I thought I was going to die,” Shontal said.

She remembers that night vividly… feeling the fire that burned the skin off her arms and her face, and put in her a hospital bed for weeks.

“It wasn't a little fire that you can stomp out it was a big fire,” Shontal said.

In the early morning hours of July 8th, Shontal says she was outside her Griswold Heights apartment building with her neighbor and their friends.

Shontal tells us the kids were asleep inside and the adults were outside when her neighbor heard the fire alarm go off.

“When we went to the back door, she opened it and a whole bunch of smoke came out,” Shontal remembers.

Knowing that one-year-old Nakia Frasier was sleeping inside, Shontal says she, her neighbor, and the baby's father ran into the burning apartment.

Shontal was the first one to make it to the baby's playpen.

“I grabbed the playpen and tried to get it out the door, I couldn't get it out the front door because the doorknob fell off,” Shontal said.

And when she knew she couldn’t get out that door, Shontal thought they were going to die – but she says at that moment she made a decision that saved her life.

Police say she ran the length of the apartment through toxic smoke and flames and out the back door.

“I thought the baby was actually dead because she wasn't crying or nothing until we got outside,” Shontal said. “When we came outside she started crying and that's when I realized that I was burned and my skin started falling off and everything.”

Shontal was rushed to Westchester Trauma and Burn Center where she underwent two skin graft surgeries.

She says the past three weeks have been agonizing, but visits from family, friends, and especially little Nakia, have made each day easier.

“I am still kind of in pain, but I am happy,” she said.

And while she's suffered excruciating pain everyday, Shontal says she doesn't, for one second, regret her decision to battle the blaze.

When asked how it feels to be called a hero, Shontal laughed and said, “I am okay with that.”

Shontal hopes to make it back home to Troy by the end of the week.

Police say they are still working to figure out just who or what was responsible for the fire.

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lillady518 - 7/31/2012 11:56 PM
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Such an amazingggg story !! Shontal is an angel and will forever be blessed for making such a "superwoman decision" ! god bless her and her family* ----we need more great news like this!
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