SAPULPA — All it took was the scent of smoke and the sound of an alarm across the street to send four Sapulpa boys, ages 14-17, running to a 90-year-old neighbor’s aid.

While Catherine Ritchie stumbled through her smoky home searching for an escape, she pushed an emergency call button, but little did she know that four boys were already trying to save her life.

While 16-year-old Dylan Wick called 911, 16-year-old Seth Byrd started trying to break down the front door and 17-year-old Wyatt Hall ran next door to ask for help.

But it was the youngest among them, 14-year-old Nick Byrd, who kicked in the back door, found Ritchie and carried her to safety.

“It felt like an action movie,” Nick said. “I obviously didn’t think about it because I ran into a burning building.”

Once Nick was inside Ritchie’s home, he said there was “black smoke throughout the whole house,” but he was lucky to bump into Ritchie in the hallway.

When Nick brought Ritchie outside, the boys said they were overwhelmed with relief.

“My heart just dropped because I was so happy that she was OK,” Hall said.

But the boys were not done yet. As soon as they had Ritchie outside, they found water hoses and tried to put out the fire, but it was too much for them.

Ritchie has since moved to a new residence in Sapulpa.

The four boys shared their story with Gov. Kevin Stitt and members of the Sapulpa community Monday at the Central Technology Center in Sapulpa.

Stitt made the trip to personally honor the boys with meritorious achievements for heroism.

“You can’t solve some of the problems with just passing laws in state government,” Stitt said. “It’s neighbor helping neighbor. It’s counties coming together to solve our own problems.”

“That whole night until she left, we were there right by her side,” Hall said during the event, met by applause from the crowd.

Ritchie’s daughter, Missy Ritchie Nicholas, wrote a blog post on behalf of her family in which she thanked the boys for “staying with her, hugging her, and helping her feel less alone until we could get to her.”

Awards were given to the four boys, each with their name at the top followed by their new title in bold: Hero.


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Chase Reavis

918-581-8457

chase.reavis@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @DCReavis

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