Volusia County deputies honored for saving baby from fire

2 deputies receive medal of valor

DELTONA, Fla. - Two Volusia County Sheriff deputies were honored for risking their lives to save a one-year-old, trapped in a burning home.

In March, Deputy Brian Poteralski broke a window and climbed into a burning home on Bath Street in Deltona and pulled the baby to safety.

"It was tough to see through the smoke, she almost looked like a doll in the crib," Poteralski said Tuesday.

Poteralski and Sergeant Michael Odgers rushed to the scene of a home engulfed in flames in Deltona on March 12. They were told a one-year-old baby girl was still inside the burning home and jumped into action.

"I couldn't have stayed in there very long. So if she wasn't in that bedroom, it could have been a much different ending," Poteralski said.

Without hesitation Poteralski ran into the smoke and flames not even sure he was in the right room at the time, he put his life on the line to save a child's.

He picked up her lifeless body and passed her through the window to Sergeant Odgers.
"The soot and mucus coming from her, I thought we were too late. And then I saw some snot bubbles," Odgers said.

Moments later they say they heard the baby cry, the sound was music to their ears and a sign that she was alive.

"To hear that cry and you could see it on his face. It was good he went in and grabbed her when he did," Odgers said.

The two were given a standing ovation when they were honored during a ceremony Tuesday morning. They were presented with the medal of valor for their bravery and courage for saving a life.

"Without him going in like that, she would have been gone," Odgers said.

The baby was hospitalized for some burns and smoke inhalation, but she will be OK.

The medal of valor is the second highest award within the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

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