Mom killed in house fire saved baby by tossing her from window

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As the flames engulfed her Illinois home, investigators say Shelby Carter had only a couple minutes at most to make a move.

Her decision to strap her 12-day-old baby into a car seat and toss her out of a second-story window Monday ended up saving the infant’s life, but the fire killed the mother. Her body was found inside the bedroom when rescuers arrived, and an autopsy revealed that carbon monoxide from smoke inhalation killed her, the Chicago Tribune reported.


"It's just incredible that she was able to pull her thoughts together to save her baby," Ed Foglesonger, chief of the Wyoming-Speer Fire Protection District, told the newspaper. "It's just too bad she couldn't save herself; but I'd say it's nothing short of a miracle the way it ended up."

A GoFundMe page named the “Kathy Hardy Family Fund Drive,” after Carter’s mother, has already raised more than $10,000 in donations to help the family.

“They have lost everything and need our help,” the page reads. The fire destroyed the wood-frame home in the city of Wyoming. The baby, Keana, was found on top of a pile of debris and was later released with a clean bill of health from a nearby hospital.


"The good news is, the baby got home and is doing great," Stark County Sheriff Steve Sloan told the Peoria Journal Star.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated by authorities, who don’t believe it was suspicious.

"Words cannot describe what has happened within our community today," the Wyoming-Speer Fire Protection District wrote on Facebook. "We have experienced a feeling that no department wants to go through. Words cannot express the way we truly feel. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family involved."

Elsewhere online, tributes poured in for Shelby, whose “greatest moment was becoming a mom,” according to her obituary.

"Shelby was a fantastic mom and proud of her baby girl," said her aunt Deb Carter Burwell, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing an interview with the Kewanee Star Courier.Shelby, a member of the Stark County High School’s basketball team, graduated in 2014 and was headed back to school to be a pharmacy technician, the obituary added.

Her friend, Anna Steelman, said Shelby was a person others turned to when they needed advice.

"She was a strong girl and if she had a task she would get it done, even if it meant sacrificing herself," she told the Chicago Tribune. "She's a hero and we're all very proud of her."

The city of Wyoming is about 30 miles northwest of Peoria.