Mother who jumped from window during apartment fire braces for difficult Christmas

Community organizing donation drive to help families who lost homes in Irmo fire

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As a fire ripped through an Irmo apartment complex, one mother, Shawnteal Boyd, made a potentially lifesaving but dangerous decision: dropping her one-month-old infant and one-year-old child from her third-story apartment to bystanders below.

“I was thinking, ‘oh my gosh, how did anyone make it out of there alive?’” Boyd’s mother Stephanie McGraw said.

McGraw helped care for her daughter’s children along with the children’s great grandparents at their home in Columbia after the fire. The fire displaced 35 people and damaged 10 units of the River Oaks Apartment complex.

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On Christmas Eve, Boyd underwent leg surgery after making the jump from her apartment. She is now recovering and is in a cast, McGraw said. Both of her children survived and weren’t harmed in the fall or the fire.

However, while her leg will recover, Boyd will never be able to recover all she lost two days before Christmas.

“She lost bed, clothes, diapers, TVs, chairs, toys for the kids, she lost everything,” McGraw said.

Now the family is hoping for donations to help them make it through the holiday season.

“Please help them they need the help,” said Boyd’s grandmother, Mary Bethel.

Bethel said it was difficult for her to watch the video of the fire and to think about how close she was to losing her granddaughter and great-grandchildren.

“I would have never dreamed this would happen to them or anybody,” she said. “I’ve heard tales of people getting burned, but the idea just to think they are on the top floor and they didn’t know if they would make it safe or not… I’m glad she had the sense to make a decision on what she had to do to save her and her baby,” Bethel added.

She said this Christmas will be one she will never forget, but also one that reminds her of the family she is grateful to still have with her.

“I want to hold onto them tighter,” she said.

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