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First responders call Texas boy ‘a hero’

By Kimberly Durnan
The Dallas Morning News

WILLS POINT, Texas — Anyone who has one knows big brothers can be overprotective at times.

In this case, a 5-year-old’s vigilance saved his younger brother’s life.

Cody McNeese fought through flames and smoke Sunday night to return to his bedroom to make sure his 3-year-old brother, Dustin, got out of their burning mobile home alive.

On Tuesday, the Wills Point brothers were recovering from smoke inhalation and burns.

And Cody was being hailed as a hero.

“Big brother is always watching after little brother,” said their aunt Kathy McDonald.

The 5-year-old, who said his hands still hurt from his burns, was matter of fact about his rescue.

“The heater was on fire, and it went up to the ceiling, and then the ceiling caught on fire,” Cody said. “I was trying to wake up my brother and get the door opened, and I got burned.”

Brian Saltor, a Hunt County paramedic, called Cody a “trouper.”

“He’s very tough. He told me the fire woke him, so he went out of his room hollering for his mother, but she was on the other end of the house,” Mr. Saltor said.

“He went back into his room and woke his brother up and made sure he got out. They found their mother in the hallway, and she guided them out.

“The mom said when she looked back, the children’s room was in flames.”

Firefighters said they were called about 11:30 p.m. Sunday to the mobile home on Rawhide Road. There they found sisters Christie Melton, 31, and Shirley Melton, 43, and the older woman’s two boys outside the burning home.

Cody had burns on his hands, back and face and suffered smoke inhalation, Mr. Saltor said. Dustin’s left hand was burned and he also inhaled smoke, he said.

Both boys were taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital and released Monday, Ms. McDonald said.

Cody’s fearlessness didn’t surprise family members, who describe him as a “Dennis the Menace” type who is “all boy.”

Cody and Dustin are like typical brothers, Ms. McDonald said.

“They are very close,” their aunt said. “They do their little bickering like brothers do sometimes, but they are tight.”

Ms. McDonald said Dustin had mostly recovered but that Cody’s hands were heavily bandaged and that he was taking medication for the pain.

“He was burned on the palms,” Ms. McDonald said. “We are mostly worried about his hands.”

Officials said a space heater in the boys’ room may have caused the fire.

Cody won the hearts of the emergency workers on the way to the hospital, Mr. Saltor said.

“To maintain his airway, we were singing his ABCs and ‘Jesus Loves Me,’” Mr. Saltor said.

“I told him he was a hero.”


Mayor Donna Holaday presented the city’s desire to operate its own ambulance service staffed by firefighters already trained as EMTs