Now nervous, but thankful to be alive, Jerri Oesch said she was sound asleep Thursday when sreams woke her up. She thought the sounds were people fighting, it wasn't.
They were trying to get her attention to save her life.
Oesch doesn't remember all of the details about being rescued, like the gurney ride to the ambulance shown in the South Bend Tribune Friday. But outside her temporary home, with only the clothes on her back, her glasses and ID, there's one thing she'll never forget.
"I was scared to death," said Oesch.
Her second-floor apartment was on fire. Jerri said she didn't have much time to think. She didn't have many options.
"All I saw was the flames,” she said. “They weren't that high, but they were starting to come up the roof. I started to panic. I panicked."
She was so nervous, she told WSBT'S John Paul she crawled out of her window barefoot and towards the fire.
"If she wouldn't make it to the roof, there was no other way out," said Mark Russo, a neighbor.
"They told me to jump. I said ‘I can't. I'm scared! I'm scared!’"
"Everyone was frantic, there were a lot of people out here – all trying to save somebody," said Russo.
"It wasn't that long, but I was scared to let go. Then I decided – I let go," said Oesch.
She jumped into the arms of a South Bend city worker. A man she calls her guardian angel.
"He saved me basically,” Oesch said. “If it wasn't for those people, I wouldn't be alive, because I was in a dead sleep. I want to meet him."
South Bend's fire marshal Chico Rodriguez confirmed the cause remains under investigation.
Oesch said the house had smoke detectors, but she doesn't believe any had working batteries.
The Red Cross is helping Oesch, but she said it's only temporary. Oesch said her church and a few friends are working to find her a new home and clothing.