Atlanta grandmother broke both ankles after saving 5-year-old granddaughter from apartment fire

Francis Akhalbey April 06, 2023
Jacqueline Roberts, 52, saved her 5-year-old granddaughter from an apartment fire -- Left photo via 11Alive | Right photo via GoFundMe

A 52-year-old Atlanta grandmother, who injured herself after saving her 5-year-old granddaughter from a second-floor apartment fire, said she wasn’t even thinking about herself as the only option she had was to save the minor’s life.

Though Jacqueline Roberts broke her two ankles and sustained many other injuries after jumping to safety, she told 11Alive she wouldn’t do anything other than save her granddaughter

“I thank God when the pain eats me and I want to scream and cry I remember I’m not in a pine box. I’m in the hospital. I’ll be OK,” Roberts said. “Broken bones can be fixed but you cannot come back from being dead.”

Roberts and her family members were in their Hampton apartment when the fire started after 4 pm on March 27. Her daughter initially went for the 52-year-old’s grandson and granddaughter and began descending 17 flights of stairs, but Roberts said her granddaughter, Autumn, returned upstairs. 

“It was so hot and my daughter shouts to me, ‘Mommy, get Autumn, get Autumn,'” Roberts said, adding that she went back upstairs to retrieve her identification and other valuables she did not want to part ways with.

“If I had gone downstairs with my daughter, my granddaughter would have been in the fire. She would have perished,” said Roberts. The 52-year-old managed to locate Autumn despite the smoke that had engulfed the building.

“I saw her silhouette in my son’s doorway,” she said. ‘She said, ‘Grandma, get me grandma, get me grandma, don’t leave me. Save me.'” At the time, Roberts said the only way to escape the fire was through a second-story window, 11Alive reported, but the distance between the window and the ground was 15 feet. 

“By this time, the smoke is coming now,” she recalled. “It’s getting a little more dangerous. She’s coughing, I’m coughing.” Roberts said she then got hold of her 5-year-old granddaughter’s wrists and released her slowly.

“I kind of bent over on my window to where the front of my stomach and my pelvic bone were over [the windows],” Roberts said. “When I dropped her she said, ‘Ouch’ and then said, ‘I’m OK grandma.’ Then I said, ‘OK, you have to move now so grandma can jump.'”

Roberts also jumped from the window, but the impact of her landing wasn’t too hard as the grass was muddy and wet because it had rained. She suffered broken ankles and other injuries from the incident. She was taken to a hospital where she underwent surgery days later. Autumn, fortunately, suffered just a few scratches.

“I had to pinch myself to make sure I am alive,” Roberts recalled. “Because at that time the pain of my broken ankles did not set in. I [was] in shock.”

Roberts said her landlord and fire officials informed her an electrical issue started the fire. Despite losing all her belongings, she is grateful she managed to escape with her granddaughter.

“I just love my children and my first granddaughter,” she said. “I love my grandkids. The only option I had was to save her life. Not even mine, really. I wasn’t even thinking about myself, honestly. It was to get her out because she’s only 5 years old. I’m 52, I’ve lived life and she didn’t start to experience life.”

Roberts’ daughter has since set up a GoFundMe to help raise funds to cover her medical bills and other expenses.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 6, 2023


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