A Portage Police officer is being called a hero for crawling into a burning home to save a boy stranded inside.
Early Saturday morning, a fire started in the basement of a home on Marion St. Everyone escaped except for 9-year-old Payton Epstein, who was sleeping when it started.
Before fire crews arrived, Officer Bill Charlebois was at the scene. Despite smoke so thick parts of the home were hidden, and heat that had driven away others, he crawled inside shouting the boy's name. He couldn't see, but was able to miraculously find Payton by touch.
"I scooped him up and he wrapped his arms and legs around me real tight, and I obviously wrapped my arms around him," said Charlebois. He retraced his steps, and crawled out towards the light and safety.
Payton's mother Nicole only found out about the heroics as her family recovered at the hospital.
"I was just overwhelmed because how can you thank somebody for that?" she said. "It's the most important thing in your life."
Despite praise for his own heroicism, Charlebois credits Payton for saving his life.
"Fortunately I got to him when I did, because I don't know if I would have had the common sense to know when to say when and get out."
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