Migrant hailed after rescuing man in wheelchair from fire

Spain could give residency to undocumented hero Gorgui Lamine Sow from Senegal

Reuters in Madrid
Wed 11 Dec 2019

 

The rescue takes place with smoke pouring from the apartment. Photograph: Roberta Etter/Roberta Etter via REUTERS

Spanish authorities are considering giving residency to an undocumented migrant from Senegal after he rescued a man who uses a wheelchair from a burning, second-storey apartment.

Street vendor Gorgui Lamine Sow was walking in the coastal city of Denia on Friday when he heard screams nearby.

He rushed over to a crowd watching black smoke pouring out of a second-floor window. “They told me there was a man trapped inside the apartment,” the 20-year-old said. “I didn’t think about it. I just dropped my things and started climbing.”

He scaled the balcony, entering the burning apartment as smoke filled the street. Once inside he hoisted the resident over his shoulders and carried him down a ladder set up by a neighbour.

Gorgui Lamine Sow. Photograph: Roberta Etter/Roberta Etter via REUTERS

Gorgui Lamine Sow. Photograph: Roberta Etter/Roberta Etter via REUTERS

Local media identified the resident as 39-year-old Alex Caudeli Webster.

“If Gorgui had not pulled Alex to safety when he did then Alex would not have survived,” neighbour Roberta Etter said. “Gorgui literally saved his life.”

As emergency officials neared the scene, the rescuer panicked. “If the police saw me they would confiscate my goods,” said Sow, who lives with his girlfriend and seven-month-old daughter in the nearby city of Gandia. “And if they take them from me, we’re not eating tomorrow.”

After ensuring the man he had rescued was OK, he picked up the bracelets and necklaces he was selling and left the scene.

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