(CLINTON, Md.) — Marcus McCoy awoke to smoke.
The 13-year-old says he realized something wasn’t right as soon as he woke up Sunday in his family’s Clinton, Maryland, home. His sister, Aaliyah, was across the room.
“I turned on my phone flashlight and I couldn’t really see nothing, and it was all smoky,” Marcus told ABC News. “So that’s when I said, ‘I have to do something.’ So I called and…[made] sure I was good myself, then checked on Aaliyah and kept talking to the dispatcher.”
That 11-minute phone call is being credited with keeping his family alive, featuring Marcus calmly telling authorities how to get inside. At one point, the sister said, “We’re going to die!” and her brother responded, “Stop! Please don’t say that!”
At various times in the call, Marcus called out to his family, making sure everyone was OK. He told the dispatcher he was in the home with his older brother, mother and stepfather, as well as his 9-year-old sister.
Unbeknown to Marcus, his mother, Bonnie McCoy Strickland, had already escaped, before realizing her children were still trapped inside.
“I kept saying, ‘My kids are in the house, they’re in the house,’ but the firemen showed up quick and they came out,” she said.
Marcus stayed on the phone with a dispatcher until the moment he and Aaliyah were rescued.
“I was happy when they broke the window and got in,” he said later.
Marcus toured the home Monday, using a flashlight to study the fire’s impact.
Aaliyah considers her brother her biggest hero. “He was trying to save our life,” she said, “and he did.”
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