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.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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