Teens run into burning home in Fayetteville to help disabled neighbor

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Two teens rushed into a burning building to save their disabled neighbor on Wednesday night (WTVD)

Everybody involved in saving David Mace's life happened to be in the right place at the right time.

That is, unless you believe that nothing happens by coincidence.

Mace, 59, was trying to crawl his way out of thick black smoke and flames sparked by an electrical fire in his Birch Road home on Wednesday night.

Mace is immobile. He suffers from a degenerative brain disease that has caused severe joint pains and slurred speech for more than a decade. In his able days, he delivered fresh food to neighbors from his garden. He cut their grass every day.

And each day, Christian Elliot and Joshua Daniel would watch Mace be an exceptional, caring neighbor.

That was when they were little boys. Now, as 18 -year-old high school seniors, they didn't hesitate to risk their lives to save Mace's.

After all, that's what good neighbors do.

RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME

On Wednesday evening, Joshua Daniel had planned to head out to Gray's Creek to workout with his dad, but the window to his Honda Civic wouldn't go up.

Frustrated by the pending rain and broken window, Daniel got to work on his car alongside his childhood friend and neighbor, Christian Elliot.

At the same time, Joyce Evans had been called next door. Her grandson usually stayed with her brother David Mace in the evenings, but schedules conflicted Wednesday.

Mace wanted her to fix his TV.

"We went into the living room, I was just sitting there talking to him and I smelled smoke," Evans explained.

It was the beginning of an electrical fire that sent Evans flying out of the home for help. She needed help pulling Mace out.

Christian and Joshua dropped their work on the car and headed straight for the front door without hesitation, only to see Mace trying to crawl from deep inside plumes of smoke.

"You can't see anything," Joshua remembered. "It's like a black wall of smoke, and I get down and I see him trying to crawl so I run in there and I just drag him out."

"And by the time I get over there Chris just opens the door grabs his legs and carries him out."

They dragged their neighbor to the front porch as firefighters arrived, yelling to onlookers and asking if anyone was still inside the charred Birch Road home that had just been the site of a Memorial Day picnic.

But the two boys, who had watched Mace be an ideal neighbor to their families, had already taken care of him.

"It's pretty intense though that we ran over there, but I always think your mind is wired for instinct," said Christian. "You'll do anything to help."

HOMETOWN HEROES

On Thursday morning, Christian and Joshua were called to the front office at Douglas Byrd High School. They thought there was trouble brewing.

Instead, administrators and classmates applauded their good deed. The boys even got a mention in the daily paper.

Mace is now in the comfort of his sister's home until the family can arrange rehab arrangements.

The inside of his entire house is charred. Mace only had the clothes on his back until neighbors began sending shoes and clothing over with his family members.

Mace wants to live in his own home, and so the house reconstruction plans have already started. It'll be a tough, expensive road, but Mace insists he return to his house.

In one of his clearest sentences, Mace spoke through tears about his gratefulness.

"Jesus' love is the real deal," he said, sitting on Evans' living room floor.

And the love of neighbors and family feels like the warmth of angels.

"It was a miracle from God that allowed me to be there at that time," said Evans. "We're so grateful, (and) I just love these young men for what they did."

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