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Uber Eats driver rescues family from burning building in Southwest Detroit

Uber Eats driver helps rescue kids from fire in Detroit
Uber Eats driver helps rescue kids from fire in Detroit 03:18

(CBS DETROIT ) — An Uber Eats driver is being hailed as a hero after rescuing a family from a burning building in Detroit early Friday morning.

Joe Ferullo, a retired Ford employee from New Boston, was making deliveries for Uber Eats overnight when he drove up to the burning building on Michigan Avenue and 51st Street. 

"When I turned the corner, I'd seen a woman open a window, and she dangled maybe like a 4 or 5-year-old kid, dangled him out of the window and had him by the arms," he said.

Ferullo parked his car and rushed over. Recalling a tragic fire that claimed the lives of a friend's family, he was determined to help. 

Andres Gutierrez/CBS Detroit

"I stood under there. And I looked up at her, and I just said, 'I'll catch him.' She hesitated for a minute. It's like, our eyes kind of locked. And I'm just like, 'I got him. I got him,' and she let them go. And I caught the little kid. And she went to put her other son out the window. But she put him head first. And she didn't speak English so it was hard to communicate ... I was like, 'No, not your head.' I was like, 'Go feet first,'" Ferullo said.

In a desperate move, the mother bear hugged her child and jumped from the window. Ferullo tried to catch them, but all three ended up on the ground.

"People didn't take out their cellphones. It was a lot of people working together, like even people that were getting out of the building. Once they were out, they were trying to help people. I mean, it was uplifting to see people work together like that, to help those people," Ferullo said.

Ferullo says he has a sore knee but is happy to hear that everyone is alive. 

The Detroit Fire Department says a 50-year-old woman, a 34-year-old woman, a 9-year-old boy, and a 4-year-old boy all suffered from smoke inhalation but will be OK.

A firefighter sustained minor burns but was treated and released.

In addition to those who lost their homes in the early morning fire, one business on the first floor is now trying to figure out what's next.

Jose Rivera owns Detroit Forever 313, a store that sells hats, hoodies, t-shirts, and other apparel. The water used to put out the fire damaged all of it.

"I've had a deluge of people just reaching out to me and asking if I need donations and if they can help me with anything," Rivera said

He estimates his losses between $15,000 and $20,000 but is grateful that those who live upstairs made it out safely. 

"It's terrifying. You know? I see the kids walk by every day here. You know, they walk by and say hi and then go upstairs. So it's a very heartwrenching little kids; they don't know any better,"  Rivera said.

"Had she not panicked, I don't think the outcome would have been the same," Ferullo said.

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