Deputies rescue elderly man from burning Bartholomew County home

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind.- Two deputies have been credited with saving an elderly man’s life in Bartholomew County.

Early Tuesday morning, the 82-year-old was trapped inside his burning home. Bartholomew County Deputy Andrew Dougan and Deputy Robert Cooper were first on scene and the overpowering smoke didn’t stop them.

“I thank God and two deputies,” said Kelly Runge, the victim’s daughter.

When the deputies showed up, Runge’s 81-year-old mother had already escaped.

“I knew within minutes it was going to get a lot worse and we didn’t have time to wait around for the fire department to get there. We had to make the best of what we had and try to get him out,” said Deputy Andrew Dougan, with the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office.

The two deputies immediately went inside, crawling through the living room but the smoke was too much.

“We got maybe 10 feet in and realized it was too thick and that we had to get out and find a different way,” said Deputy Dougan.

This time they tried the garage. Deputy Dougan and Deputy Cooper went inside the burning home not once, but twice to make sure this elderly man made it out safely.

“I couldn’t exactly see where he was at, but I could hear him, so I had him keep talking to me, so I could figure out where he was at,” said Deputy Dougan.

First responders found the elderly man and got him out. It’s believed a wood burning stove may be to blame for the fire. Most of the damage is from the heavy smoke.

“It’s probably not the best thing to go into a burning building but at the same time you do what we have to do,” said Deputy Dougan.

This Bartholomew County family knows it was a close call and knows they’re very thankful for the actions of those two deputies.

“They are lifesavers. If they had not been able to find my father through the smoke, with him hollering could’ve been worse,” explains Runge.

Both the husband and wife were treated on scene for smoke inhalation and are now with family. This call was on Deputy Cooper’s first time out patrolling in uniform.