Friday, April 13, 2012

Cory Booker recounts risking his life in dramatic fire rescue of Newark neighbor

At 9:30 p.m., the call came — a fire at 433 Hawthorne Ave.

At 9:35, when Newark firefighters arrived, they saw Mayor Cory Booker. He was doubled over, struggling to breathe. Rescue workers immediately treated him with oxygen.

But by 10:15, Booker, his right hand singed by second-degree burns, was tweeting that he had just saved his next door neighbor, Zina Hodge, from a kitchen fire and was on his way to University Hospital.

Booker said that as he arrived home from a television interview Thursday night, he noticed a member of his security detail leading two women out of the house next to his South Ward apartment. The officer, Alex Rodriguez, told the mayor there was a fire in the second-floor kitchen.

Booker and two other officers helped the women out, then went inside the burning building where they found a man trying to douse a kitchen fire. The man was rushed downstairs, but Booker said Jacqueline Williams, one of the women who was already out, told him her daughter was still upstairs.

Instantly, Booker tried to run back in. But Rodriguez, charged with protecting the mayor, forbade it. He was quickly overruled.

"It wasn’t easy," Rodriguez said. "I was trying to hold his belt, but he gave me an order."

Fighting through flames and thick smoke, Booker tried to locate the 47-year-old Hodge.

"When I got through the kitchen and was searching for her and looked back an saw the kitchen in flames it was really a frightening experience for me," Booker, his hand still bandaged, told a throng of media outside the house this morning. "I didn’t think we were going to get out of there."
Booker is the first honest, quality mayor Newark's had in generations, so if he wants to bask in this for a day or two, fine. He doesn't reside in a very good neighborhood.

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