Ward Pearce was about to leave home for an errand Friday afternoon when his 11-year-old son heard an alarm.
Pearce went outside to check only to find neighbors calling 911 and hollering about an elderly woman who uses a walker stuck inside her smoke-filled condo.
Cobb County firefighters said a cigarette possibly caused the fire about 2 p.m. in the condo, which is near the Cochran Shoals Trail by the Chattahoochee River.
Pearce, the 49-year-old mortgage underwriter, said a neighbor handed him a rock and he chucked it at the sliding glass door.
The glass didn’t break. So he threw it again, and harder. The rock smashed through and he went in.
“The smoke was so thick I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face,” he said.
Pearce heard her shouting — “I’m here, I’m here.”
He went back outside, overwhelmed by the smoke.
So he worked in stages: He went back in, opened the dead-bolted front door to clear the smoke and then back outside for a breather before grabbing the woman in bear hug and dragging her out.
“Knowing that she was in there,” he said, “(I) had to get her out.”
Pearce said the community’s management sent note to residents Monday saying the woman was still on a ventilator.
When he went back home that day, Pearce remembered his son greeting him with: “Dad, you saved her life. You’re a hero.”
“That was a great moment right there,” he said.
In other news...
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.