Carroll Co. deputy recalls actions during fatal house fire

Carroll County Sheriff's Deputy Drew Yoder speaks about his efforts to save four children from a Flora house fire. (WLFI Photo)
Carroll County Sheriff's Deputy Drew Yoder speaks about his efforts to save four children from a Flora house fire. (WLFI Photo)

CARROLL CO., Ind. (WLFI) — Nov. 21, 2016, is a day that lingers in the minds of many in Carroll County – especially, Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy Drew Yoder.

“We’ve got to go in and get them,” said Yoder during a news conference Friday. “That was me and Josh’s first thinking.”

Yoder and Flora Police Officer Josh Disinger were the first to arrive after a report of a fire at a East Columbia Street home.

Yoder, who drove past the home frequently, saw Gailyn Rose outside. He was familiar with her four daughters, who were still trapped inside.

“Those girls were always outside on a nice day, dancing around the Columbia Street/Division Street sign,” explained Yoder. “The greatest thing was that they would all stop, smile, and just wave as you passed by.”

So the day of the fire, Yoder and Disinger sprang into action.

“With no hesitation we both entered into the residence three different times,” he said. “There was little fear in my mind. The only thing going through it was that there were four little girls inside the residence that were needing our help.”

Despite their efforts, the smoke and heat were just too much.

“Disinger and I never stopped trying,” said Yoder. “We went inside, came back out for air, went back in, came back out, each time getting farther and farther inside. The third time is when things went bad.”

Yoder was severely injured trying to save all four girls, who died from smoke inhalation.

After waking up in the hospital days later, Yoder learned the tragic news.

“When I was told the four little girls did not make it, my heart sank to my stomach,” he said.

While Yoder mourned the girls’ lives, he gained strength through all those who reached out to him during his recovery. That includes the man who saved his life.

“Flora Officer Josh Disinger, thank you,” said Yoder. “You, my friend, are my hero.”

Yoder returned to duty at the end of December, but said he returned a changed man.

“I still think about it everyday,” he added. “My hands and stuff still remind me of it everyday, but I’ve just got to push forward and do what I’ve got to do.”

While Yoder’s scars will fade with time, it’s the emotional scars that remain.

“This incident will forever impact my life, but it will not stop me from performing my duties,” he said.

Yoder also thanked everyone who comforted Disinger and him.

Disinger is being honored for his heroic actions at an Indianapolis Pacers game Saturday night.

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