75-year-old mom rescues son from fire (Video)

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

May 28, 2012 at 12:28 a.m.

Victoria firefighters extinguish the remnants of a fire at a house on Texas Highway 185.

Victoria firefighters extinguish the remnants of a fire at a house on Texas Highway 185.   Todd Krainin for The Victoria Advocate

Betty Hamilton tapped into superhuman strength Memorial Day afternoon to save her son from a house fire.

Hamilton's home near Hilltop Drive and Texas Highway 185 caught fire about 1:15 p.m. Monday in the bedroom of her son, Charles Larkins.

Hamilton said she heard her son calling for help and rushed to his side.

"I heard him screaming, and I ran in his room," the 75-year-old retiree said, her eyes welling with tears. "The whole room was on fire."

With arthritic hands and an enfeebled leg, Hamilton's maternal instincts surged. She drug her 59-year-old son to safety - lifting more than double her own weight.

"His face was pretty badly burned, and his hair was burned," Hamilton said. "I don't know how I did it. The Lord gave me the strength. ... I saved his life."

Larkins, who lives with his mother, was disabled at the time of the fire and using an oxygen tank after a previous accident that occurred more than a year ago, said his sister, Dorothy Haynes.

He suffered burns to his face and hair and was transported by ambulance to DeTar Hospital, then airflighted to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He was in stable condition.

"At this point, we've talked to the family members, and they reported that he was possibly smoking in bed," Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray said. "After looking at the actual evidence inside the room, it appears that's a good conclusion."

Hamilton's son, Jimmy Jones, 44, was also a resident of the single-family home with his mother and five adult siblings. He was at work when he learned his home caught fire.

"I'm thankful she was able to pull him out. I don't know how she did. She has arthritis bad, and a bad leg," Jones said, wiping tears from his eyes. "If it weren't for her, my brother would not be here."

Jones said his siblings were not at home when the fire engulfed his brother's room.

"She was there by herself. It makes me wish I hadn't gone to work today ... but you gotta go make your money. You gotta live," he said.

The home sustained heavy smoke and fire damage throughout. Although the fire was contained to one side of the home, Pray said, it is not livable.

Haynes said her mother was renting the home and had lived there about 12 years. She said the home was not insured.

Jones said he lost everything in the fire.

"All my clothes, valuable pictures," he said. "Everything I had was in that room."

Hamilton will be staying with Haynes until she finds a more permanent residence, and the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter is assisting the rest of the family.

"She might have saved him, I hope she did. If she didn't, she did the best she could. No one was there helping her," Jones said.



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