About a week after a fire killed a 7-year-old boy, the boyfriend of Dreydon Webb’s mother is talking about that chaotic night.
Gene Connelly was with the little boy during his last moments.
“He was a very brilliant kid,” said Connelly. “I'm not just saying that. He was smart -- one of the smartest kids I've ever met in my life. I know angels were around him. I know it.”
As Connelly remembers Dreydon who he called his “little buddy,” he can’t help but be haunted by that horrible night and the guilt he’s left feeling.
“I cry a lot but that's not what Dreydon would want. So I try to fight it,” said Connelly.
Dreydon was only spending the weekend with his Mother and Connelly. The couple had just moved in to their apartment for a week. Gene work up to thick black smoke in his room last Saturday morning.
“I thought I was going to die,” said Connelly. “I thought we were going to die.”
By the time Connelly woke up, there were flames engulfing the front of the building. He says he was forced to grab Dreydon and his mom, Jessica, and run to the side of the building.
“I had put their hands together and pulled a little bit to her and I said, ‘This way,’” he said.
Connelly said he ripped open the screen and jumped out of one of the side windows first, in hopes of catching the mother and son when they followed. Instead, only Dreydon’s mom came down.
“She said she didn't know,” said Connelly. “She said he slipped out of her hands. It's the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had.”
While the burn marks and scratches on his hands begin to heal, Connelly says the emotional scars will take much longer. While he understands that day may never come, Connelly knows there are others who are hurting even more.
“I want to say to his father, I really did everything I could and I’m so sorry for their loss,” said Connelly. “I didn't want that. I loved Dreydon and I’m so sorry.”
Connelly says he doesn`t know how the fire started. He has also decided to cut any contact with Dreydon`s mother.