DALLAS — The cousin of a South Dallas two-year-old who died in an apartment fire Sunday morning says the little girl went back in to the burning unit looking for her grandmother.
"I just... I wish I could have been the one to save her," Jimmy Thompson said.
He is crushed he was unable to rescue his cousin, Eve Jammer, from the fire that killed her, even though he barely made it out with his own life.
It was Sunday morning at the Village Oaks apartments in the 3500 block of Overton Road when something caught fire in their second floor apartment.
"I instantly started choking and coughing, and I panicked," Thompson said. "It was instantly just smoke all around us."
Disoriented, Thompson and his girlfriend Natasha figured their only way out was down.
They jumped out of the window.
"I climbed out, positioned myself where I would land on my feet, and ended up landing on my foot and spraining it real bad,” he said.
Even with the sprain, Thompson helped his neighbors save 18-month-old Tiffany, another cousin now recovering at Parkland Memorial Hospital after breathing in the smoke.
But it’s what happened to Eve that he can’t forget.
For the first time, we’re learning that she safely made it out of the burning apartment with her grandmother... but then didn’t stay out.
"I guess my grandmother was making a second effort to come back and get us," Thompson said. "Just being a little small baby that loved my Granny, always at her footsteps... my grandmother went back in, and I guess she followed her."
The grandmother escaped a second time, but Eva did not. Now Thompson’s injured ankle takes a distant back seat to his broken heart.
"This pain right here will go away, but the pain of losing my little two-year-old cousin to that fire is never going to leave,” he said.
Dallas Fire-Rescue is still investigating the cause of the blaze. A spokesman said they believe there were no working smoke detectors in the unit Sunday morning.
Family members told News 8 there were detectors, but Thompson said he did not hear them go off.
For information on how to donate to help the family and others displaced by Sunday's fire, visit the Behind Every Door website.