Detroit Fire Department honors neighbors who rescued mom, babies from house fire

Posted at 7:46 PM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 19:46:05-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Victoria Witherspoon and her husband were always pleasant with their neighbors as they greeted each other in passing, but they never knew their names.

That was before a fateful afternoon in mid-August when the neighbors heard the mother of two babies screaming for help.

Witherspoon's house was on fire and she was trapped with her babies on the second floor of their home on Warwick Street in Detroit's Rosedale Park.

That's when Witherspoon says her neighbors turned into angels, urging her to drop her babies into their arms below.

"I was terrified, but you realize you don't have any more options," Witherspoon told reporters outside her family's charred home Thursday as Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones awarded her and those neighbors with DFD Civilian Citations for their heroism that day.

Byron Boykin, his wife Alunda Boykin and Chris Beebe each received a citation along with Witherspoon for her quick thinking and courage that day.

The Boykins were only at their home across the street that afternoon because Byron's father had stopped by to give them a gift for their anniversary.

The Boykins had been at breakfast and said they'd come back home to see him.

And it was when they were standing outside their own home that they heard Witherspoon screaming for help.

Witherspoon said it was a smoke detector sounding off that alerted in time to get onto a balcony area on the second floor.

Witherspoon was hesitant but the neighbors were able to coax her into letting go of her babies so they could catch them. Then it was time for Witherspoon herself to jump into their arms.

After the Boykins and Beebe got Witherspoon and her children to safety, they had to stop her from running back into the house to try to save the family's dog Vue.

Firefighters located Vue and tried to resuscitate her, but she died.

Investigators said the fire was accidental.

In the video player above, watch Witherspoon reunite with the neighbors she now calls their angels.