An undocumented migrant from Senegal bravely rescued a disabled man from a burning second-floor apartment — and now Spanish authorities are considering granting the hero permanent residency.
Street vendor Gorgui Lamine Sow, who fled Senegal in September 2017, said he was wandering the streets of the coastal city of Denia on Friday when he heard screams coming from a crowd nearby. He rushed over to see smoke billowing out of the second-floor window of an apartment building.
“They told me there was a man trapped inside the apartment,” Sow told Reuters. “I didn’t think about it. I just dropped my things and started climbing.”
The 20-year-old scaled the balcony and entered the blazing apartment through the window. He hoisted the trapped resident, identified as Alex Caudeli Webster, over his shoulder and carried him down a ladder set up by a neighbor to safety.
“He grabbed me like I was a sack of rice, and he really took the strain, because besides not being able to walk, I have a problem in my legs, I suffer from vertigo, and I couldn’t hold still,” Webster, 39, told El País, a daily newspaper in Spain.
However, after ensuring Webster was OK, the hero bolted from the scene out of fear that emergency officials would confiscate the jewelry he was trying to sell to support his girlfriend and 7-month-old daughter.
“If the police saw me, they would confiscate my goods,” Sow said. “And if they take them from me, we’re not eating tomorrow.”
But the story of Sow’s valiance quickly spread across the country and local authorities are now urging officials to grant him permanent residency. A government source in Valencia confirmed to Reuters that his case is being reviewed.
The story is also being shared as an antidote to the anti-immigration message being pushed by Spain’s far-right party, Vox. The party now holds 52 of Spain’s 350 parliament seats after gaining 28 in the country’s November election.
“If Gorgui had not pulled Alex to safety when he did, then Alex would not have survived,” Webster’s neighbor Roberta Etter told Reuters. “Gorgui literally saved his life.”
Webster has since gifted Sow and his daughter a Superman T-shirt as a thank you.
“I’m just happy that the man is fine,” Sow said.
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