DUNMORE -- Early Saturday morning two Dunmore police officers on patrol almost took another route but instead drove past 113 Chestnut Street and saw the building was on fire. They were the first to call 911, and then rescued eight people from inside.
Newswatch 16 met Patrolman Gene Ruddy at his day job that he said he values much more now.
He's a school resource officer at Mid Valley Elementary Center in Throop. But, early Saturday morning he was wearing a Dunmore Police uniform.
He and his partner made a last-minute short cut down Chestnut Street, and saw flames coming from the apartment building. He called 911 and then ran up the back stairs to the second floor apartment where the fire had started.
"I couldn't get in; the smoke and the flames were just so bad. So, I shut the door and systematically started going to all the other apartments," Ruddy said.
Joseph Fazio, Ashley Price, and Nicole Price were inside that apartment. Autopsies showed they had probably already breathed in too much smoke before Ruddy stumbled upon the fire.
What Ruddy and his partner did next though likely saved the lives of eight other people. They went door-to-door and guided the tenants through the smoke.
But, Ruddy said he can't shake the "what ifs."
"What if I tried to do something different? And what if I went in a different direction? Those are the things that bother you because three lives were lost," Patrolman Ruddy added.
Ruddy said since Saturday many people have told him to focus on the positives. Some have even called him a hero. But that's a title he doesn't think he deserves. He said he was only doing his job.