IRMO, S.C. — An Irmo mother's heroic act to save her family from an apartment fire changed her life forever.
Two days before Christmas, a fire burned down an apartment building at the River Oaks complex off Bush River Road in Irmo.
More than 30 people were homeless and most lost everything.
"I lost everything in the fire. I didn't even jump out with shoes on," said Shawnteal Boyd, a mother of two. "That's something I will think about for the rest of my life."
December 23 around 1 in the afternoon, Boyd woke up to the sound of a smoke alarm.
"I didn't smell any smoke or see any fire until I opened up my door and saw that the whole hallway was basically on fire," she recalled. "The way you get downstairs, all that was in flames."
Boyd was trapped with her 1-year-old daughter, Teionna, and 1-month-old son, Thailan, in her third floor apartment.
"At first I had Thailan in one arm and I had Teionna in the other arm and I was just standing in the window contemplating whether I should jump with them," said Boyd.
She remembers crying out for help. At that moment, she says two teenage boys ran over and assured her they would catch her babies.
"They were like, 'Ma'am! Please! Hurry up!' I just knew they were angels," said Boyd. "I did not want to lose my babies."
By the time she realized her children were safe, Boyd says the fire reached her living room.
"That's when I knew that I had to jump," she said. "When I jumped I broke my bones in multiple places [in my leg]."
Boyd says she fought multiple infections after surgery. The infections were so severe, she had to make a life-altering decision.
"The infection was growing up my leg up to my thigh, so that means the infection was trying to make it through my body trying to take over," said Boyd. "So [doctors said] I would have to cut my leg if I wanted to save myself, so I just went ahead and did it."
Now, Boyd is navigating a new chapter.
To help, we found a state organization ready to lend a hand: Able SC.
"What you shared with me earlier of this mother's really heroic story that resulted in a disability, we would never want her to feel like her life is over because of that. Or that she can't adapt to the way that her life and her body is different now," said Sarah Nichols, Director of Public Relations and Special Events for Able SC.
Able SC provides a variety of services to anyone with a medical condition or disability. Their services include one-on-one coaching, helping navigate job searches and informing people of their rights in the workplace.
"Over 80% of our staff has some type of disability. So we provide peer support to people who are coming to us within the community so that they know they're not alone, so that they can still live the life that they want to live," said Nichols.
In 2020, Able SC provided over 14,000 services to nearly 1,500 people.
"We can really help these people figure out what kind of support they need, where to go first and we can guide them through that process to independence," said Nichols.
Boyd tells us she plans to give Able SC a call. Since the fire, she's received clothing and baby supply donations from community members. In the meantime, she is staying with family.
For more information about Able SC, you can e-mail them at email@example.com or give them a call at 803-779-5121.