STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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: 13260

Reported Deaths: 625
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds89324
Lauderdale67855
Madison65421
Scott58910
Neshoba51231
Forrest48034
Jones46713
DeSoto4616
Leake38410
Holmes36523
Rankin3496
Jackson29613
Copiah2784
Attala27014
Lincoln24320
Monroe24224
Leflore24025
Harrison2346
Newton2243
Lamar2194
Yazoo2152
Pearl River20327
Pike19611
Adams18615
Lowndes1607
Noxubee1586
Washington1535
Warren1506
Bolivar14010
Jasper1393
Oktibbeha13410
Smith13110
Covington1271
Chickasaw12612
Clarke12616
Kemper12510
Lafayette1233
Carroll11310
Wayne1090
Marion1088
Lee1045
Clay993
Winston981
Coahoma983
Lawrence901
Hancock8711
Simpson850
Itawamba857
Yalobusha824
Wilkinson829
Montgomery781
Sunflower773
Grenada752
Jefferson Davis712
Union715
Tippah7011
Marshall693
Panola622
Calhoun604
Tate591
Claiborne581
Humphreys537
Amite521
Walthall510
Tunica483
Perry462
Jefferson400
Prentiss383
Stone300
Choctaw292
Webster271
Pontotoc263
Franklin252
Tishomingo250
Quitman240
Tallahatchie241
George191
Alcorn151
Benton140
Greene71
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 14478

Reported Deaths: 551
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile1996109
Jefferson161488
Montgomery118630
Marshall6499
Tuscaloosa50512
Lee49832
Franklin4476
Shelby43319
Tallapoosa39662
Butler34411
Chambers33623
Madison2964
Baldwin2749
Elmore2637
Etowah23610
DeKalb2213
Coffee2001
Walker1981
Dallas1973
Sumter1916
Lowndes18610
Houston1644
Morgan1621
Autauga1593
Calhoun1413
Choctaw1414
Pike1360
Colbert1362
Marengo1336
Hale1293
Russell1280
Lauderdale1282
Randolph1257
Wilcox1187
Marion11310
Bullock1111
Barbour1101
Clarke1022
St. Clair1021
Pickens934
Talladega912
Greene894
Chilton871
Dale830
Cullman760
Limestone740
Jackson692
Covington651
Washington645
Winston620
Macon602
Bibb591
Crenshaw582
Henry562
Blount491
Escambia433
Lawrence420
Coosa331
Geneva330
Cherokee332
Perry310
Monroe282
Clay272
Conecuh251
Lamar200
Cleburne131
Fayette110
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 74°
Columbus
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather