Body cameras catch harrowing fire rescue by Des Moines police

Des Moines Police Officers who rescued a mother and 3 children from a burning building. (Left...
Des Moines Police Officers who rescued a mother and 3 children from a burning building. (Left to right) SPO Cole Johnson, SPO Craig Vasquez, SPO Casey Sanders, SPO Tyler Kelley.(KCRG)
Published: Mar. 20, 2019 at 1:20 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

A central Iowa family made a generous and impactful donation Tuesday to a woman who was forced to throw her three young children to law enforcement authorities three stories below as a fire raged throughout their apartment.

Des Moines firefighters were sent at about 3:15 a.m. to an apartment complex in the 3700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway on reports of a fire at the building.

Des Moines police said senior officers Cole Johnson, Craig Vasquez, Tyler Kelley and Casey Sanders quickly positioned themselves under the apartment window and caught the children before fire crews arrived.

Their body cameras captured the dramatic moments Osheana Harrison, a mother of three, screamed from the third-story window, sobbing as she tossed her children out the window and into the officers’ arms.

“Get them by the window,” Johnson can be heard saying in the body camera video. “Send them down. Drop him. Drop him. Keep going. Stay right here. I got them. Go. Go.”

One by one, each child is saved as flames flew just feet away. Emergency response personnel then frantically got a ladder to rescue Harrison.

“We got to get a ladder, quick” Johnson said. “Someone dropped. We got the kids. Hurry.”

“We got you. We got you,” said Sanders, comforting the visibly shaken children. “Are you scared, babies? It’s OK. They’re getting your mom out right now.”

Firefighters contained the fire to two apartments on the third floor and got everyone out safely, including Harrison.

“Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart because I don’t know what I would do without my babies,” she said.

Harrison and her three children -- 3-month-old Jayciere, 18-month-old Ariyah and 3-year-old Breeaylah -- are all safe and unharmed, thanks to the efforts of the courageous officers.

“The police were trying to catch me and my sister and my brother,” Breeaylah said.

Harrison said she and her family had only lived in the apartment for two weeks. She said the smoke detectors never went off and that it was a miracle she woke up.

“My aunt says I have an angel watching over me,” Harrison said. “I don’t know what woke me up, but thank God I did.”

Smoke destroyed everything in the apartment.

So the Hannah Geneser Safety Store at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines stayed open late Tuesday so the family could get new car seats, a stroller, a pack and play, sleep sacks and carbon monoxide detectors -- free of charge.

The Geneser family started the store in honor of their late daughter, Hannah. Their passion for child safety spurred them to make the generous donation.

Because of the generosity of strangers and braveness of police officers, a tearful Harrison said she has this message to share: “Just make sure you give your kids the tightest hug.”

Des Moines fire investigators are still looking into the cause of the blaze. The man who lived in the unit next to Harrison told police he thinks his space heater may have started the fire.

The building sustained extensive smoke and water damage. Harrison said she is trying to find a new place to live.