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Old 12-18-2007, 10:48 AM
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Boy died in fire trying to save dog: uncle


Tuesday, December 18th 2007, 4:00 AM


Nine-year-old Tommy Monahan died in a blaze at his Staten Island home trying to save his beloved terrier Sophie, neighbors said.

Fevelo/News
'He loved animals,' said the boy's grieving uncle, Craig Monahan, a retired firefighter.

Murray for News
Bravest respond to the inferno at the home on Princewood Ave., which erupted late Sunday.

Neighbors and the firefighter uncle of a 9-year-old Staten Island boy who died in a horrific fire said Monday they believed the child perished trying to save his dog.

The boy's uncle, Craig Monahan, a retired firefighter who was a 9/11 first responder, said his nephew Tommy Monahan may have gone back for his beloved terrier Sophie.

"He loved animals," said the uncle, whose stationhouse lost 11 firefighters on 9/11 and two in the Deutsche Bank building blaze in August.

He said Tommy kept a tin can of coins that he saved to give to animal charities.

Neighbor Samantha Defilippo also believed Tommy stayed inside to try to save his dog and a lizard.

"Tommy escaped from his mother to get his animals," 12-year-old Samantha said. "Everybody thought he was outside but he wasn't."

Tommy was pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital after the inferno in his 49 Princewood Ave. home.

His father, Thomas, climbed a ladder and smashed a second-story window to try to save his son, but was stopped by extreme heat and flames, witnesses said.

"He smashed it with a chair, but he just couldn't get in," said Liz Cruz, who watched the rescue attempt with dozens of her neighbors on Sunday night.

The father, who escaped with his wife and daughter, was overcome with grief when firefighters found his unconscious son and loaded him into an ambulance, Samantha said.

"He was screaming, 'Tommy, Tommy,'" she said. "He started crying, and I started hysterical crying."

FDNY spokesman Jim Long said the blaze was sparked by a malfunctioning extension cord in the ceiling of the basement late Sunday.

He said investigators were still trying to determine what caused the extension cord to malfunction and what the cord was powering.

Firefighters charged into the house to find the boy when they arrived about 11:15p.m., Assistant Chief Thomas Haring said.

Anthony Belisario entered from the front but broke through the burning staircase and was briefly trapped before being pulled out by another firefighter, Haring said.

James Ahrens, a 20-year veteran, used a ladder to climb to Tommy's smoke-filled bedroom but the boy was not there. Ahrens crossed the hall, passed the fire-engulfed staircase and found him in his sister's room, Haring said.

FDNY officials said they were unsure why Tommy didn't make it out, but said there was "a very small window" of time to escape. "Our hearts go out to the family," Haring said.

Overwrought neighbors - some clad in pajamas - watched the rescue attempts from the family's front yard.

"They were crying and praying they would get Tommy out," said George Hopkins, 66, a retired assistant principal.

"It's horrible," said Eileen Schmidt, whose son Robert, 8, was Tommy's playmate. "It's a horrible tragedy."

Robert said, "He had a lizard, a dog and a fish. They're all dead. They were all stuck in the house.

"He always asked me, 'If you see a snake come get me.' In my yard one time, I found a snake. He came over and we put it in a tank, then we let it go."

Neighbor Cruz said everyone is reeling.

"It was just surreal," she said of the tragic scene. "I said, 'This is a nightmare.' But I wasn't asleep."

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With Rachel Monahan

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Old 12-18-2007, 10:53 AM
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That's so sad.. he would have done great things in life. I'm still trying to figure out why such good people die and why bad people keep living. SO frustrating.

His dog was really cute, too.
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:56 AM
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Oh my gosh....that's horrible. He was a very special and heroic boy to do that. RIP Tommy and Sophie =(.
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Old 12-18-2007, 11:27 AM
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Im so said im crying now
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Old 12-18-2007, 12:16 PM
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how sad
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Old 12-18-2007, 12:19 PM
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Wow... my heart goes out to the family. That gave me chills. He definitely would have done great things. The world needs more people like that young boy.
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Old 12-18-2007, 02:14 PM
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Too, too sad !
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Old 12-18-2007, 03:02 PM
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Poor guy, how tragic
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Old 12-18-2007, 03:05 PM
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that is so so sad but it really shows true love for an animal when you risk your like for them he is a hero
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Old 12-18-2007, 03:18 PM
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Guess this just proves that heros come in all sizes
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