Mom’s Powerful Love While Escaping California Fires: “If You Have to Run, Take the Baby and Leave Me Behind”

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 19, 2018   |   8:00PM   |   Washington, DC

A California mother displayed selfless courage earlier this month as a California wildfire approached the hospital where she had just given birth.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiled Rachelle Sanders and others who survived the horrible wildfire that has claimed dozens of lives and destroyed the homes of thousands more.

Sanders had just given birth to her third child Nov. 8 at the Feather River Hospital in Paradise when emergency response teams began evacuating the town, according to the report.

Her baby, Lincoln, was born via C-section because Sanders had a high-risk pregnancy, but he was healthy, she told the newspaper.

Not long afterward, Sanders said the evacuation order came.

According to the report:

They put Sanders in a wheelchair, the infant in her lap. A line of patients snaked from the emergency room to the ambulance bay. Orange glowed in the digger pines, needles aflame. Time was short, so the staff began loading patients into each other’s cars.

Sanders was hustled into a stranger’s white sedan. Her intravenous line hung from the rearview mirror. No seat belt, because of her incision. She slipped a mask over the baby’s mouth and nose and covered her own face with her pink hospital gown.

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“Go with David,” they said.

The situation went from bad to worse as they got onto the roads. Traffic was jammed with people trying to escape, and the flames were getting close – so close that they melted the plastic taillights on the vehicle that David, an employee of the hospital, was driving, according to the report.

Some people jumped out of their cars and began to run away on foot, but that was not possible for Sanders.

The report continues:

As the flames roared closer, Sanders stroked Lincoln’s cheeks and made a pact with the stranger to her left.

“If it comes down to it, if you have to run, take the baby,” she said to David. “Leave me behind.”

Sanders would have sacrificed her life for her son in that terrifying blaze. Fortunately, she did not have to. Although her family lost their home in the fire, they all are alive and safe.

According to the report, David was re-routed back to the hospital, which narrowly escaped the fire. Eventually, Sanders said she and her son were transferred to another hospital and reunited with her husband and two older children.

She could have lost her life to give her son a chance at his, sacrificing everything for him. When others were panicking and fearing for their own lives, she thought only of her son. Sanders is a true heroine.