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Woman reunites with trash collectors who saved her life in Mount Clemens house fire

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Posted at 10:59 PM, May 20, 2024

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (WXYZ) — In April, we told you about three trash collectors in Mount Clemens who spotted a house fire and took matters into their own hands, saving the life of a 70-year-old woman.

On Monday, those workers were honored at Mount Clemens City Hall, and the woman they saved was there to see it.

“These guys, they saved me," Barbara Goudelock told the crowded meeting room."That's all I have to say.”

Watch the men jump into action in the video player below:

FULL VIDEO: Workers jump into action after seeing house on fire

It was short and sweet but a long embrace. Goudelock got the chance to meet and thank the men, who are the reason she’s here today.

It was April 4 when Gary Whitcher was driving the garbage truck for Priority Waste in Mount Clemens and noticed smoke coming from a home. He then ran to the back of the truck and alerted his co-workers Nortberto Altman and Keeyon Beaty Jr. They then ran ran toward the house.

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Nortberto Altman talks about how he and three of his co-workers saved a woman from a house fire in Mount Clemens in April. (May 20, 2024)

“I asked, 'well, let me check if someone’s in there,'" Altman said. "I banged on the door and then I heard her voice.”

While the men had been going about their normal trash route in Goudelock's neighborhood, they had no idea what was going on inside her home until they saw the smoke.

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Barbara Goudelock meets with the community and three men who work as trash collectors and saved her from a house fire in April. (May 20, 2024)

"I was sitting in my bedroom and I heard this popping noise," Goudelock explained. "I went down the stairs to the basement and I was almost at the bottom of the basement steps (when) the socket on the wall burst in flames."

When the electrical outlet exploded, Goudelock's hair caught on fire. By the time she put that out and got upstairs, she was stuck in a room and struggled to breathe.

Watch our previous report about the rescue below:

Trash collectors save woman from burning house in Mount Clemens

“I was just scared. This had never happened to me before,” Goudelock said. "There was too much smoke, I couldn't see. So I went back in the bedroom, closed the door again, got a towel, put it over my nose and mouth and these guys came and rescued me.”

When Norberto heard her voice, he kicked in the door but couldn’t reach her. Instead the three men ran to the window of her room and helped pull her out just in the nick of time.

"That's what saved me: it was my garbage day," Goudelock said with a laugh. "It's so different that someone would take their chance of their life to save someone else and not run away or keep doing their garbage. But, they saved my life."

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The men were recognized by the city of Mount Clemens and state of Michigan and received certificates for their heroism.

However, the biggest thank you of all came from Goudelock and her family. Because of those three men, they just celebrated another Mother's Day together.

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Gary Whitcher, Nortberto Altman and Keeyon Beaty Jr. being recognized by the city of Mount Clemens and the state of Michigan for saving Barbara Goudelock from a house fire as they were collecting trash in the area. (May 20, 2024)

“I thank those men because without them, I would be a whole different person,” Goudelock's daughter Lashanna Frazier said. "They deserve it. They definitely deserve it.”

Unfortunately, Goudelock’s 17-year-old dog Rocky did not make it out of the fire. Goudelock is currently living elsewhere as the inside of her house needs to be rebuilt.

Family set up a GoFundMe page for Goudelock.