MARTINEZ, Calif. (KTVU) – It was a tearful reunion Thursday between a mother and son who were trapped in their burning apartment, and the Martinez police officer who rescued them.
"In my mind, I knew God was going to send and angel, and then I saw you running," Tania Segura told Officer Dustin Mayberry when they hugged in the Martinez Police Department lobby.
"I'm blushing," Officer Mayberry replied. "It's a very good feeling to have somebody come back and visit me like this."
5'2" Segura brought a stepping stool to give her 6'6" hero a proper thank you.
"Officer Mayberry, it seems like your parents watered you twice a day," she said in her native Jamaican accent. "You grew so tall like a tree!" She stepped up to give the officer a hug. "And I can measure up to you now. Thank you!"
On April 22 at 5:45 a.m. fire broke out in the Mission Pines apartment complex on Pine Street in Martinez. Segura and her son Alek were sleeping in their second floor unit. Mayberry was at the end of his shift when the call came over the police radio.
"Even from several blocks down the road, I could see the fire coming out of the balconies," Mayberry recalled. "So I knew I had to get there quickly."
Officer Mayberry arrived before the fire department, and saw the mother and son. "They were hanging out the window, calling for help," Mayberry said. "So I immediately ran up the stairs and started kicking their door."
"You walked through flame and smoke so you could save two lives that are here in front of you today," Segura said, giving the officer a small gift of appreciation. "This incident really is stuck in my mind," Mayberry said. "I have a feeling I'm always going to remember it and carry it with me."
Segura and her son are among several families who lost things in that fire. They are living in a hotel for now, and starting from scratch.
Alek's former teacher started a GoFundMe account to help get them on their feet again.
"I didn't know I was loved by so many people," Segura said through tears. The mother and son are waiting to move into a new rental next month.