PIERREPONT, N.Y. (WWNY) - A chaotic race against time - that’s how police describe Sunday’s rescue of a Pierrepont couple from their burning home.
The call came in at 10:32 Sunday night: structure fire with entrapment. When police officers arrived at the fire, they saw family members outside and a few firefighters just getting to work.
“When we first got up there, there was smoke billowing out the window. The windows were already broken. We look inside. It’s really dark. But you could see that there were flames actively in the room,” said
Alexander Williamson, New York State trooper.
And something else - 64 year old Ricky Gollinger and 62 year-old Lena Gollinger were unconscious in the front corner of the home. Lena Gollinger was lifted out first and then a deeper dive was needed to get her husband.
“Deputy Anderson, at that point I saw him, half of his body into the window, trying to just prop up Mr. Gollinger to get him out,” said Williamson.
“I was able to reach him, pull him close enough to where another officer and a bystander to grab a hold of him to extract him from the house,” said St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Anderson.
The officers make it clear it wasn’t just them. Family members were at the window grabbing and hoisting as well. Firefighters were fighting the blaze. Ambulances were waiting.
“It was a very chaotic scene, but everyone on that scene did their part. We had 100 percent support,” said Robert Latimer, New York State trooper.
The Gollingers were still unconscious and badly burned. Both were rushed to Canton-Potsdam Hospital then flown to Upstate Medical center. Both were later pronounced dead there.
“It’s very difficult. It’s one of those parts of the job that’s never easy,” said Anderson.
Two of the Gollingers’ sons were in on the rescue. But they said what they really want people to remember is what a loving, caring couple their parents were.
The fire remains under investigation by fire investigators and state police. Foul play is not suspected at this point. The fire’s cause is still to be determined.