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Boy dies trying to save disabled grandfather from fire

Posted at 1:06 PM, Jan 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-22 16:23:33-05

PENFIELD, NY (WHAM) -- A upstate New York woman is remembering her eight-year-old son as a hero after he tried to save his disabled grandfather from a fire early Monday morning.

The last time Crystal Vrooman hugged her son, Tyler, goodbye, he had a smile on his face after convincing his mother to let him spend the night at his grandfather’s house.

"It was his best friend, and he tried to save him," Vrooman said.

Vrooman pieced together what happened during her son's final minutes with the help of family members who were there.

The nightmare started when Tyler's four-year-old cousin woke to find his blanket covered in flames.

Six people made it out of the mobile home, but Tyler went back to get his disabled grandfather. His aunt tried to stop him, but then followed the boy into the grandfather's smoke-filled room.

"My sister had his hand, and I guess he let go of her and tried to get to my dad,” said Vrooman. “She opened the window, and he wasn't there anymore."

Vrooman said she is haunted thinking of her son’s final minutes when he couldn't breathe and must have been scared.

The boy’s body was found in the rear of the mobile home. Vrooman father and grandfather also died in the blaze.

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"They were lying in the bed together, trying to get to the window, and I am so grateful he went with people that he loved… That he didn't cross over alone, and I'm so glad that he was with his best friends," the boy’s mother said.

Vrooman said he is proud her son tried to save his grandfather, but wants her son back.

"You never know when it's going to happen. Just hold your babies close and don't let them go," she said.