Palmetto family reunited with firefighter who saved their son

Seven months after a fire destroyed their home and sent their youngest son to the hospital, a Lee County family is reunited with the firefighter who rescued their baby.

Posted: Jul 15, 2019 11:52 PM
Updated: Jul 16, 2019 9:43 AM

PALMETTO, Miss. (WTVA) - Seven months after a fire destroyed their home and sent their youngest son to the hospital, a Lee County family is reunited with the firefighter who rescued their baby.

In June, WTVA reported on the life-saving award received by Wink Briley, assistant fire chief of the Palmetto-Old Union Fire Department, for his role in saving the life of a 7-month-old after a house fire on Dec. 27, 2018. 

RELATED: Family escapes Lee County house fire

RELATED: State presents local volunteer firefighter with a life-saving award

At the time, Briley said his department, the Shannon Volunteer Fire Department and the South Lee Volunteer Fire Department, had been looking for the family because they knew they lost everything. 

Moments after that report, Jessica Cruz said she received several messages about Briley and his outreach. 

Cruz said her first thought was she and her family needed to find Briley. 

Two days later, Briley received a call he will not forget. 

"I received a call through 911 to get in touch with the Shannon Police Department. So I called, and she was there," Briley said. "I did talk to her, and all she said was, 'Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.'"

Over the weekend, all three fire departments hosted a reunion for Cruz, her family and Briley. 

Briley said seeing the infant Sebastian, now 13 months old, was completely different from the first time he saw him at the scene of the house fire.

He described the seven-month difference as a miracle.  

According to Sebastian's parents, they take him to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, for check-ups, but overall, he is in excellent health. 

"The nurse told me he wanted to live and that he's a warrior," Sebastian's father, Jose Maldonado, said. "[The nurse said] he wouldn't give up without a fight." 

It was an emotional reunion. As Sebastian's family carried him to the reunion, Briley immediately took him into his arms. 

"I'm eternally grateful for [Briley] bringing back my angel," Maldonado said. 

Firefighters from all three volunteer fire departments attended the reunion at the Palmetto-Old Union Fire Department and provided food for Sebastian's family. 

According to Palmetto-Old Union Fire Chief Jeff Pearson, Southern Sales and Rentals donated a bounce house/water slide and a snow cone machine for the event. 

During the event, each volunteer fire department presented a check to Sebastian's family to help cover some of the cost after losing almost everything in the fire. 

"All the funds were raised by the three fire departments combined, as well as members of the department," Pearson said. 

"They are brave people, and they deserve respect from all of us," Maldonado said. "Thank you to all who helped us and who were with us in supporting my family."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 91935

Reported Deaths: 2780
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6903153
DeSoto532153
Harrison368771
Jackson334367
Madison318086
Rankin313473
Lee254066
Jones236078
Forrest231069
Washington215671
Lafayette203039
Lauderdale1984123
Bolivar177465
Oktibbeha173749
Lamar156633
Neshoba1524103
Panola140926
Sunflower138543
Lowndes138457
Warren136650
Leflore134380
Pontotoc120416
Pike120148
Monroe117665
Scott115925
Copiah115433
Coahoma110927
Holmes108458
Marshall106714
Grenada104535
Lincoln104453
Yazoo103429
Simpson100142
Union96524
Tate94537
Leake93535
Adams89135
Wayne87121
Pearl River84850
Marion83633
Covington79321
Prentiss78617
Alcorn75310
Newton74722
Itawamba74121
George73913
Tallahatchie73418
Winston71919
Tishomingo65035
Attala63625
Chickasaw63524
Tippah63516
Walthall58925
Clay56216
Hancock55420
Noxubee54015
Jasper53615
Clarke52538
Smith51714
Calhoun50612
Tunica47213
Montgomery45020
Claiborne44916
Lawrence42212
Yalobusha41314
Perry39016
Humphreys36915
Quitman3625
Stone34611
Greene33516
Webster32813
Jefferson Davis32211
Carroll30812
Amite30710
Wilkinson30117
Kemper28515
Sharkey25812
Jefferson2359
Benton2151
Franklin1863
Choctaw1775
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18648332
Mobile12949288
Montgomery8560170
Madison736573
Tuscaloosa7015112
Lee558259
Shelby550149
Baldwin502148
Marshall376342
Etowah326344
Calhoun321139
Morgan312925
Houston260621
Elmore247547
DeKalb230119
St. Clair218134
Walker217780
Talladega199925
Limestone191919
Cullman180017
Franklin172728
Dallas172526
Russell16912
Autauga162424
Lauderdale159231
Colbert157224
Escambia154324
Blount150413
Jackson146610
Chilton143325
Dale128042
Covington127027
Coffee12388
Pike11329
Tallapoosa112483
Chambers110642
Clarke104417
Marion91428
Butler90238
Barbour8097
Marengo69319
Winston68512
Lowndes64327
Pickens62214
Bibb6179
Hale60828
Bullock58514
Randolph58512
Lawrence57620
Monroe5708
Washington54513
Geneva5404
Perry5356
Wilcox52911
Cherokee52816
Clay5187
Conecuh51611
Crenshaw51531
Macon46619
Henry4524
Sumter41719
Fayette4128
Choctaw34212
Lamar3302
Cleburne3116
Greene29915
Coosa1573
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 66°
Columbus
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 67°
Oxford
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 61°
Starkville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather