Grandfather and Purple Heart Recipient Dies Saving 3-Year-Old Granddaughter from House Explosion

An Oklahoma man who was once awarded a Purple Heart proved himself a hero once again when he sacrificed his life to rescue his young granddaughter from a house fire.

Don Osteen was eating lunch with 3-year-old Paetyn on Sept. 19 when the home they were in exploded shortly after Don lit a candle about 15-30 feet away from the stove, local NBC affiliate KFOR reports.

Brendon Osteen, Don’s son and Paetyn’s father, told the outlet that Don dove into action when he saw the roof crumble onto Paetyn and snagged her from the flames.

“He just got out of the house, and headed straight towards where he knew help was,” Brendon said. “He tried to get in his truck and his keys were melted to him. His phone was exploded in his pocket.”

Despite suffering a collapsed lung, broken ribs and severe burns, the Army veteran carried Paetyn a quarter of a mile and up a steep driveway to safety, taking care to place the girl in the shade once they were out of harm’s way.

“He wasn’t worried about himself at all,” Brendon told KFOR. “I’ll leave it at that, but ‘save her’ is what message he was trying to get across, and he did exactly that.”

After they were discovered outside by Don’s wife, the injured pair were taken by helicopter to Integris Burn Center in Oklahoma City, according to a Facebook fundraising page arranged by Don’s daughter-in-law Jamie Moore. Don was admitted to the ICU in critical condition and with burns on 70 percent of his body, while Paetyn was taken to the PICU with 30 percent burns.

Brendon confirmed on Facebook that Don succumbed to his injuries on Monday.

“He was surrounded by a large group of his favorite people for his last 5 days. He knew that he did his job by saving the life of his Boo Boo Chicken,” Brendon wrote, noting his father’s nickname for Paetyn. “He loved my daughter beyond unconditionally. And he gave it all for her to live. He was a great God fearing man who impacted so many people. And he will be missed dearly.”

He added, “Rest in Peace Daddio. You’re a hero.”

Don’s wife Anita shared a Facebook tribute of her own, writing, “Don was my best friend, my everything. I am still in a fog and state of shock, it all has not hit me yet.”

Paetyn, meanwhile, has made tremendous progress, Brendon said, noting that her doctors were very impressed with how far she’s come.

“[Doctors] are saying they can’t believe the progress she’s made so fast as a toddler with her severity of burns,” Brendon wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “This little girl is so strong and fights so hard to cooperate whenever the nurses come in messing with her. We all can only imagine how much hurt she is dealing with physically and mentally.”

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