Sept. 25, 1994, is a day Bonnie Sue Johnson will never forget. It was early that morning when Johnson’s life was saved by a firefighter that, until Thursday night, she simply knew as her “guardian angel.”
In an exclusive interview with StaceyPageOnline.com, Johnson recalled waking up at 7:23 a.m. to her then boyfriend breaking out a window and telling her to get out of the mobile home at Lot 147 in Suburban Acres. “He said, ‘There’s a fire! Get out!’ then he went to the front of the trailer to get the dog,” Johnson recalled. “Then the stove blew up between us and he couldn’t come back for me.”
She can still remember the site of a giant fireball coming down the narrow hallway of the trailer toward her. She was at the small window her boyfriend had broken out when suddenly a man appeared. “I begged him to help me and to this day I don’t know how he got me out, I just know I need to meet him.”
Wiping away tears Johnson added, “I lay awake at night thinking about him. I go to bed thinking about him and wonder how he got me out. I just want to meet him so bad. I’m thankful for my kids and my grandkids. He’s my hero.”
Johnson called into “Speak Out,” a popular feature of The PAPER, asking for help in locating her “guardian angel.” Her request was seen by a member of the Leesburg/Plain Township Fire Department who responded back through Speak Out, inviting her to attend the Jan. 3 meeting of the department. And she did.
As the firefighters began trickling into the fire station for their 6:45 p.m. meeting, Johnson kept watch wondering which one was her hero.
She said she waited all of these 18 years to try to find him because she was never really sure who to thank for saving her life. “I was told it was this guy or another guy,” she explained. “I just need to know before I die.”
After outgoing fire chief Mitch Rader introduced Johnson and recapped the events of that morning fire in 1994, he told her who was responsible for saving her life, and Lloyd Shroyer stepped forward.
Shroyer was a newbie on the department and, at that time, lived within just a couple of miles from Suburban Acres. He heard the emergency call and rushed to the scene, just in time to pull Johnson from that tiny window.
“I just grabbed you under your arms and pulled,” he said.
Johnson said the most important thing to her was that Shroyer was willing to give his life to save hers. “He was at that window when the fireball came. I’m just so glad he didn’t leave me,” she said. “He really is my hero forever. His wife is a lucky woman to have found him.”
Johnson greeted him with a hug and a half dozen pink roses with a card that simply read, “Thanks to you, I’m still alive!”