Being alert and caring for others are two factors that set Nichole Parson-VanMeter and her boyfriend Leif Walker apart from others.
Parson-VanMeter was working around the couple’s home in Strasburg sorting through clothing she planned to donate to Friends of the Homeless of Tuscarawas County last Friday night. “I saw smoke and thought it was them cooking out until I noticed no one was home,” Parson-VanMeter said. “I took another look and saw the kitchen window was bright red. That’s when I freaked out because I kept hearing a weird noise. It was the dogs trying to get out.”
Facing the perilous situation of seeing the home of Shelby Goss and Bret Baldwin, there were several options, much easier than the path that the couple chose. “I ran inside and yelled for my boyfriend to call 911. I ran back outside and grabbed my spare key for their house and threw at my boyfriend because I tripped and fell,” Parson-VanMeter said. “He got the front door open but flames were so bad we started breaking windows.”
At that point, Parson-VanMeter and Walker were able to break the glass on the sliding door to the bedroom. Parson-VanMeter’s boyfriend felt around with his hands to find Roxi the Mastiff. Parson-VanMeter and a passerby pulled her to safety. Walter the Bulldog was in the living room in his playpen. “My boyfriend dangled over the window and pulled the playpen closer and grabbed a hold of his rolls,” Parson-VanMeter said.
The next-door neighbors in the burning duplex were not home. Parson-VanMeter and Walker were able to rescue three cats from that residence also.
“Shelby and Bret are my best friends,” Parson-VanMeter said. “They have helped me out through everything. Their fur babies mean just as much to me as them. I refused to not get them out. I didn’t care how bad it was. It just kicked in and we acted. If anyone knows me, once I make up my mind there’s no stopping me and those dogs were coming out. I’m so glad my boyfriend was able to get them out because I wasn’t stopping.”
Shelby Goss praised Parson-VanMeter and Walker for their selflessness. “Thanks to my best friend who lives across the street and her boyfriend who broke down the doors and windows themselves and drug our babies out, our dogs are saved and that is the most important thing,” she shared in a post to friends and family on Facebook.
The apartment was a total loss for its occupants. They did not have renter’s insurance and are working to put the pieces of their lives back together. A spaghetti dinner to help the couple has been planned for August 25 at 11 a.m. at Krocker’s Bar and Grill where Shelby works as a server. Cost is $10 per person for pre-sale tickets good for the meal that is available for dine in or carryout. Call 330-343-4610 for tickets.