Trapped Firefighter Describes Final Moments From Jamie Middlebrook LODD-New Carlisle, IN


“We weren’t in a bad spot. I did not feel heat at all,” he said Tuesday.

With 18 years of firefighting experience, O’Donnell said he did not feel unsafe inside the building.

“Not once. We read the building, we read the smoke coming out of the building,” he continued.

The hose line was almost set when he heard a rumble. Seconds later, he recalled being trapped under heavy debris, screaming his partner’s name.

“I take the flashlight off my helmet that was given to me by my family, and I started to look around. Jamie’s not visible. Jamie’s reflectors off his coat aren’t visible, his boots aren’t visible,” O’Donnell said. “I would have taken anything.”
He described banging on the roof that had collapsed around him, hoping someone on the outside might be able to hear him.

“The radio is going ballistic. Somebody is screaming, ‘We have a collapse!’ Somebody is screaming, ‘We have a mayday,’” he said.

For a second, everything stood still. O’Donnell said he thought about his family.

“I’m lying here in what could be the spot they come and find me later. I was pretty nervous, started getting a little anxiety,” he described. “Eventually, I was able to calm down. It was probably only a brief second, because the mind works so fast. It was that moment of sheer terror.”

But O’Donnell had to make a choice for his pregnant wife, their unborn child and their 3-year-old daughter.

“I had to go. I had to find a way, I had to die trying,” O’Donnell continued, describing his thought process. “I would have stayed with Jamie. I would have done anything to get him out. Now that I can’t find him, maybe he’s out, maybe I’m the last one in the building.”


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