On Friday, April 13, 2012, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker discussed his rescue of his neighbor, Zina Hodge, on the evening of Thursday, April 12. “I’d like to say I was courageous, but honestly it was terrifying," Booker said. He suffered second-degree burns on his right hand. Monday April 16, his neighbor remained in the hospital in stable condition.
When Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker arrived home the night of April 12, he temporarily assumed another civil servant’s role — fire rescue worker. Discovering his next-door neighbor’s house on fire, Booker helped rescue a young woman who was trapped upstairs, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.
“I just grabbed her and whipped her out of the bed,” Booker told the newspaper. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. He told the Star-Ledger he also suffered second-degree burns on his hand.
When Booker arrived, he saw flames and smoke coming from the second floor of the building next to his home. Booker and two members of his security detail rushed inside to help residents escape.
Booker and three members of his security detail were taken to the hospital for treatment, along with a woman from the house. She was listed in stable condition with burns to her back and neck, according to the newspaper.
Booker called the rescue a “come to Jesus moment” in an interview the next day with CBS News. He feared being trapped as he and a detective on his security detail tried to bring the woman out of the burning building, he told CBS.
“I couldn’t see anything but the flames coming out of the kitchen, and I really had this moment where I thought, ‘Okay. I think I’m trapped. I think we can’t get out.’”
Booker joked that the experience would compromise his role in labor negotiations. “As my chief of staff and others were teasing me, I’m ill-equipped to do firefighter union negotiations — ‘These guys, give them everything!’”