Illinois Woman Dies Trying To Save Cellphone From House Fire

| by Emily Smith

Illinois woman Wendy S. Rybolt died after she ran back into her burning home to retrieve her cellphone.

Bartonville police and firefighters were dispatched at 3:23 a.m. after a fire started in the basement of the Rybolt home. Rybolt, 44, and her teenage daughter had made it out of the house by the time responders arrived.

Rybolt, who has a history of psychiatric problems, decided to enter the house at the last minute to retrieve her cellphone. Salvador Lopez, a Bartonville police officer, rushed into the house to save Rybolt but was overwhelmed by the smoke.

Lopez retreated from the house before he could save Rybolt, and was later taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

“It was heavy black smoke,” Police Chief Brian Fengel said. “He could not get her out.”

Firefighters eventually found Rybolt in her bedroom. She was transported to St. Francis for treatment.

The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office has since begun investigating the cause of the fire. The fire did not initially appear suspicious, although he added that it’s “too early to tell” the exact cause of the fire.

Rybolt was pronounced dead at 4:30 a.m. that same morning from carbon monoxide intoxication.

Sources: Journal Star, BND