'She lives through him.' Father celebrates son's bittersweet 1st birthday month after mother's death in fire

Ostrowski took Leo from his smoke-filled room and handed him to Ortner, who ran out to a roof ledge and tossed his son into the arms of a good Samaritan.

News 12 Staff

Mar 23, 2022, 10:09 PM

Updated 762 days ago

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It's a bittersweet first birthday for Leo Ortner.
A huge house fire in East Setauket killed Ortner's mother on Feb. 18. Both the little boy and his father were injured.
Lisa Ostrowski, 31, is credited with saving her baby's life from the fire before she died.
Her fiancé, Steven Ortner, escaped the fire while trying to save Lisa.
"It was living hell. It really, really was," Ortner says. "It was the scariest night of my entire life."
He says that he and Lisa both started panicking and knew they had to get Leo out of the house.
Ostrowski took Leo from his smoke-filled room and handed him to Ortner, who ran out to a roof ledge and tossed his son into the arms of a good Samaritan.
He tried to get back inside to save Ostrowski but was stopped by a wall of flames.
"We're survivors," Steven says. "We made it together, but my wife is the real hero. She really is."
Leo and Ortner spent weeks hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns.
They are now recovering at the home of Ortner's parents.
"I miss my wife so much it's killing me. But she lives through him," Ortner says.
Donations of clothing and baby items came in after the fire. Strangers contributed to a GoFundMe page--giving more than $114,000 so far.
Ortner hopes to pay it forward someday to honor Ostrowski's memory.
"I would want to be the best I can so when she looks down at me and my son, she's happy," Ortner says.


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