‘None of it matters’: Family grateful after father rescues son from burning Cedar Hills home
CEDAR HILLS — Shannon Kelley’s husband and son are still overcoming burn injuries. Her home won’t be livable again until about Christmas.
But after the near-death experience her family endured just a few days ago, Kelly has no problem keeping such problems in perspective.
“None of it matters,” she said Tuesday.
Early Friday, Kelley was worrying whether her husband, Spencer, and 12-year-old son, Connor, would be able to escape the family’s Cedar Hills home as it went up in flames. Spencer Kelley had dashed back into the house to save his son, who was stranded in his bedroom.
“I was trying to keep (my other children) calm,” Shannon Kelley said as she was moved to tears Tuesday while sharing the story at a friend’s house. “At the same time, I couldn’t imagine what was going on in the house and was praying that they would be OK, that they would make it out alive.”
Spencer Kelley remembers he and his family “were all zonked out” just after midnight Friday inside their home at 10683 N. Fiddle Sticks Drive. Suddenly, he heard his 12-year-old nephew cry out. Just as he and his wife smelled smoke, the home’s smoke alarm began to blare.
The couple rushed out of the room, tried to collect everyone and then fled the house.
“We got everybody out — or so we thought,” Spencer Kelley recalled.
Connor’s cousin, as well as his 15-year-old brother and 10-year-old sister, had escaped. But as his parents looked around, they noticed he was missing from the group.
“That’s when your stomach sinks,” his father said.
In that moment, there was no question in his mind, he said, about what he needed to do . Without a word to anyone else, he ran back inside the rapidly heating house.
“There’s never communication about that. There’s no words spoken. You just go,” Spencer Kelley said.
Inside the home, the flames and smoke turned every room on the second and upper floors into deep orange and black. Connor was in his bedroom, trying to figure out what do do, when his father found him.
“I could barely see him. You really couldn’t see your hand in front of your face,” Spencer Kelley said.
Finally, he was able to grab one of Connor’s limbs and the two tumbled their way down the stairs in a frantic escape.
Kelley was able to get his son out alive. However, neither of them escaped the close call unscathed, as both were taken to University Hospital with significant burns. Connor was released from the hospital later that day. His father, who suffered some third-degree burns among injuries to his feet, knees and hands, was released the next day.
Fire officials say the two were lucky to survive at all and recommend as a general rule that family members never re-enter a burning home. Spencer Kelley said he knows he’s fortunate the rescue didn’t end much worse.
“I don’t know if I could have made a second run at it,” he said.
Connor has made a quick recovery, his only recent complaint being that he was held back from some neighborhood “night games,” his father said. He’s anxious to attend football tryouts later this month.
“He’s geared up and ready to go,” his mother said.
The Kelleys say they are astounded by the amount of support and generosity they have received from their family and neighbors. The amount of love shown to the family is “above and beyond” and “not normal,” Shannon Kelley said. Her husband made it a point to thank the University Hospital and Lone Peak Fire District several times for their efforts during the emergency.
In the meantime, the family hopes to move back into their home by the end of the year. The main and upper floors were gutted. Lone Peak Fire Battalion Chief Joseph McRae has estimated the fire, caused by a beanbag sitting on top of a plugged-in, heated game console, resulted in about $150,000 in damage.
Still, the family is simply grateful to know they are safe and are going to be OK.
“The fact that the head count is still five, I’ll take (being out) of a house for a few months,” Spencer Kelley said.
His wife agrees. She said the ordeal is a reminder that all that counts in life is your loved ones.
“We just take it one day at a time,” she said. “We have each other and for that we’re grateful.”