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‘He is my hero’, says baby’s mom

Her eyes filled with tears, Javiera Ocaranza stared into the blackened window of the townhouse where she had stood with her infant daughter, their path to safety blocked by a deadly fire raging beneath them.

Her eyes filled with tears, Javiera Ocaranza stared into the blackened window of the townhouse where she had stood with her infant daughter, their path to safety blocked by a deadly fire raging beneath them.

“I was trapped in there,” she said yesterday, falling into the comforting arms of co-op manager Denise Toussaint.

On Tuesday morning, Ocaranza was forced to drop her 20-month-old daughter from a second-storey window into the arms of a neighbour at a townhouse complex in the Queen Street East and Greenwood Avenue area.

Her helper was Werner Schmidt, whose wife, Louise (Lulu) Schmidt, had been in their ground-level unit when the fire started.

He knew he couldn’t save her, but called to Ocaranza to drop her daughter into his arms.

Firefighters tried to rescue his 63-year-old wife, who used a wheelchair and relied on oxygen for a severe respiratory condition, but she died at the scene.

Neighbours remembered Lulu, who had lived in the tight-knit complex for about three years, as exceptionally friendly and good with children. Her husband is known as the first one to step up if someone is in need.

Ocaranza, who went back to the building briefly on Tuesday evening, said: “He saved my daughter, he is my hero. Him and his wife were good, kind people. This was an accident, a horrible, horrible accident.”

Neighbours are taking donations for the Ocaranzas and their children, and doing what they can to comfort and clothe Werner.

 
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