CHICAGO – The man who was carried out to safety in his wheelchair by a CPD officer during an Englewood fire is having a tough time finding shelter.
Last week, Joseph Ortiz was inside his second-floor apartment when a fire erupted in his building.
Before firefighters arrived, Chicago police officer Adrian McCoy just happened to be on patrol in the neighborhood and he jumped into action.
Ortiz, who has been wheelchair bound since 2014 due to shooting, went to his stairs and saw a shadowy figure he knew from his block – Officer McCoy.
“I tried to jump on him,” Ortiz said. “‘We gotta go,’ thinking he’s gonna carry me, no he grabbed the whole chair.”
After getting Ortiz to safety, McCoy rushed back in and helped get five other tenants out.
Last Thursday, he was able to thank McCoy for saving his life at Chicago Police Headquarters.
“I wasn’t supposed to make it the first time and if he never came I wouldn’t have made it the second time either,” Ortiz said.
After being able to thank McCoy, things have been tough.
Ortiz has been trying to get into a shelter, but said so far – none will take him in due to not wanting to be liable, or not being wheelchair-accessible.
He said his landlord was quick following the fire and did not offer any solutions.
“‘I’m sorry what happened’ and that was pretty much it, not like, ‘can I find you another place to go?'” Ortiz said.
Ortiz said his wheelchair was damaged during the fire and he lost everything. In the meantime, he is staying with various family members. His mother has had trouble getting ahold of the Red Cross, but thinks it is due to Christmas.
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Ortiz has started a GoFundMe to help him get a new wheelchair and find housing. At this time, the cause of the fire has not been determined.