Boy Dies Trying To Save Pets From Fire

TommyNine-year-old Tommy Monahan was a hero. He braved a house fire in New York to try and save his dog, Sophie, his lizard and his fish.

Tommy’s uncle said that Tommy loved animals and even had a tin can of coins in his room that he saved to give to animal charities.

When the fire broke out, Tommy made it outside safely with the rest of his family, but then he realized his pets were still inside. He broke away from his mother and went into the burning house to try and find his pets.

Tommy’s father tried to get back inside the house to save his son, but he couldn’t get past the flames and heat to reach Tommy. Tommy and his pets perished in the fire.

During his memorial service, Tommy’s family surrounded him with things that were dear to him: a plush lizard, a book about nature, a school report that he did on Sophie, his Yorkshire terrier, and the can that Tommy put his coins in to donate to animal charities.

Source: New York Post, New York Daily News

40 Responses to “Boy Dies Trying To Save Pets From Fire”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bless his heart.

    His unselfishness led to tragedy but his spirit is an inspiration.

    Condolences to his friends and family.

  2. Chuck U. Farley says:

    How sad. He must have been a really nice kid. I will pray that his family makes it through this terrible tragedy and finds some comfort and strength.

  3. G in Indiana says:

    My deepest sympathies to the family of that young man. What an awesome human being we all lost…

  4. Don Earl says:

    That’s about as tragic as anything I’ve seen in recent memory.

    Tommy obviously didn’t learn his love and bravery from his father, but perhaps his father may learn love and bravery from his son.

  5. catmom5 says:

    What a loving and courageous little boy. I’m so sorry that he and his pets didn’t make it out of the fire alive. His spirit will certainly be an inspiration to others.
    In the face of all the evil in this world, this little boy shines like a beacon of hope.

  6. Poodlluver says:

    Don Earl,
    What a horribly rude and unnecessary thing to say. You were not there and do not know all of the details to what happened.

    How could you say something like that? Dont you know that his parents or family may see that comment? Can you stop and think for a moment just what they are going through already, and how your words would
    hurt like he!l ??? Stop being so critisizing.

    To the parents,
    What an awesome young man you were raising.
    I for one realize that the parents were apparently doing something WONDERFULLY RIGHT! To have a child with such a strong love and compassion!!! He was a very sensitive boy and that reflects from the parents teachings :)

    God bless you. Please know that you will be in others thoughts and prayers all over the country who read this. Please completely ignore the rude remark that someone made. Its just completely untrue.

  7. A.C. says:

    This is the saddest story I’ve read in a long, long time.

    May God surround and uphold that family.

  8. Nancy G. says:

    Heartbreaking. Yes, bless his heart. “Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his friends.”

  9. hazel says:

    We read all too often about horrid acts of cruelty……it is a blessing to know that such kind and wonderful souls as this little boy exist too. It is just tragic that he was taken from us far too soon. We need more like him.

  10. DOG LOVER says:

    my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this brave lil boy. god bless you and you will be in my thoughts and prayers during the holiday season. just remember god will have a special place for this lil boy in heaven.

  11. G in INdiana says:

    Don your words were unnecessary and cruel. How dare you judge that man? Were you there? Have you ever seen a house fire? Why don’t you stick to pet poisonings or something you know a bit about instead of making horrendously judgmental statements about events you have no connection with.

  12. NH says:

    This story breaks my heart. Timmy will be in my thoughts this Christmas. He is my hero.

  13. Stefani says:

    Wow, what a kid. I am so sorry his rescue attempt was unsuccessful. Mostly, I am sorry that such a wonderful human being perished. Stefani

  14. Don Earl says:

    Poo & G,

    I’m sorry, but any man who would save his skin first, without making sure his children were safe, isn’t much of a man. Since you evidently figure it’s just dandy to beat feet while the children burn, I can’t say I think much of you either.

  15. Robyn says:

    That little boy is a hero to me. There are stories of parents rescuing children and dogs or even cats rescuing people but few of people rescuing animals while endangering their own lives. I would run into fire to try to save my animal children IF there were any opening in the flames. If I knew for sure I would just burn up or suffocate, I probably wouldn’t. Tommy’s father probably knew he’d die if he went in after his son. That doesn’t make him less of a father. The rest of his family needs him too. It doesn’t say how long after Tommy broke away that his father tried to follow. The father may not have known right away.

  16. Poodlluver says:

    Like I said before, you were not there and dont know the details.
    How do you know that the frame didnt collapse as the man was running to the house to save the boy?
    How do you know that other grown men didnt hold him back because they knew that it was too late for the kid, and the man would have not made it either?

    You know, the kid may have unexpectedly quick as a flash ran back in
    to the house….and FIREFIGHTERS were able to grab his dad and hold him back because they didnt want to loose 2 lives instead of 1. (Plus the pets)

  17. Stefani says:

    Yeh, I don’t think we can pass judgment on the dad. We don’t know — his mother tried to hold him back and he ran back in. Others may have stopped the father, or just a wall of flames. It’s tragic, he’s lost his son. stefani

  18. Furbabies says:

    This is really a sad but touching story. It’s not right that a child with such strong ethics has to die and the punks that have no ethics or morals still walk the streets causing trouble.

  19. Nancy VB says:

    My prayers go out to this family. What a wonderful young man they were raising. He was taught kindness as we can see by his actions.
    The father of this boy will live the rest of his days with the pain of losing his son and not being able to help him. I don’t think he needs anyone to make him feel worse.

  20. Lynn says:

    This is very, very sad and my heartfelt thoughts go out to the family. If there’s any comfort at all, it’s that the child is with the pets he so loved.

  21. badgerdog1887 says:

    My prayers go out to his family. My sister was burned over half of her body when her home caught fire, and she went back into her home to try to save her pets. She saved her two dogs. Her cats died in the fire. She spent 1 1/2 months in the burn unit of a large hospital, endured four surgeries for skin grafts and months of rehab. Her home was a total loss. She and her two dogs moved in with me.

    Several of our relatives just kept shaking their heads saying how she was crazy and stupid for going back in to save her pets. She made it out without being burned, but she went back in three times. I finally said to them, “If those were children she went back in to save, you’d be calling her a hero. How can you judge her for trying to save a living thing!” I never heard a negative word from any of them after that.

    Until you have experienced something as devastating as a fire, you have no idea how horrific it is physically and mentally. I cannot imagine this family’s anguish at losing their son, but I know in my heart, they raised a child who was worthy of being called a real hero.

  22. Don Earl says:


    The first thing you can do is read the source article rather than depend on the fictionalized version by EH. Tommy never made it out. In the mad dash for the exits, mom and dad left Tommy behind in the burning building.

  23. Poodlluver says:

    I read it. Heres the link to what I read:

    Maybe you need to re-read it and actually imagine for just one moment the entire picture. There was a lot of confusion and chaos going on….

    I will end my argument right here because I see that you are not capable of visualizing *reality in a living nightmare of confusion and chaos*

    Tommy rest in peace with your sweet friends.
    Tommys family, I agree with Lynne that if there is any comfort at all, its that he is now with his pets that he loved so dearly. (((hugs)))

  24. Don Earl says:


    Yes, people do panic in emergencies and leave their children to die while they save themselves. I just don’t think there’s anything admirable about it.

  25. Frosty says:

    I read both the NY Post and NY Daily News stories. Neither indicates that the father “left his child to die.” Thankfully, the poor man is probably too busy grieving right now to pay any attention to these comments.

  26. Michelle says:

    I don’t care what anyone says, after reading other articles about this story, it is clear that Tommy’s father tried to do everything he could to save his son. Tommy’s family is in my heart and in my prayers, and I will never forget Tommy’s story. I have never heard of young child to be so selfless and compassionate as Tommy was. Despite the fact that he had to lose his life at such a young age, he is a hero, and I have no doubt that God will surely have a special place for him in heaven. God bless everyone this holiday season, especially Tommy’s family and friends.

  27. toni says:

    This is a tragic story about a selfless young man that perished trying to save his pets. Pray for the family, praise the child, and STOP BICKERING.

  28. Poodlluver says:

    Don Earl
    You are not a nice person, period.

  29. Poodlluver says:

    Don Earl,
    Sorry about the last comment. I tried to delete it but it didnt work.
    I apalogize.

    Have a Merry Christmas.

  30. Stefani says:

    I hope they set up an animal charity in honor of this wonderful young man, with the heart and soul of a hero. Stefani

  31. Kristin says:

    Stefani, I was thinking along the same lines. If anyone were to donate this season to an animal shelter or charity to do so in memory of Tommy. Keep his spirit alive that way. My thoughts go out to his family and God bless him and his sweet friends that meant so much to him.

  32. Don Earl says:

    From the NY Daily News:

    “FDNY officials said they were unsure why Tommy didn’t make it out”

    “Neighbor Samantha Defilippo also believed Tommy stayed inside to try to save his dog and a lizard.”

    “”Tommy escaped from his mother to get his animals,” 12-year-old Samantha said. “Everybody thought he was outside but he wasn’t.”"

    “The father, who escaped with his wife and daughter, was overcome with grief when firefighters found his unconscious son and loaded him into an ambulance, Samantha said. ”

    Now, if that article is true, Tommy was left inside and never got out.

    The recently added NY Post article tells a radically different story, where Tommy got out safely, but ran back inside, without, apparently, anyone noticing.

    If conditions were such that Tommy could run back inside, and up the stairs, it should have been possible to follow the same route and get him back by the same route.

    Why were folks going to get ladders to get into the house from the second level if they thought Tommy had gotten out? And, if Tommy went back in, why didn’t they simply follow him? And, if all 4 got out safely, and logically were watching their house burn, how in the world could they not notice Tommy running back to the house in their direct line of sight?

    The most credible observer would be the FDNY official quoted as saying Tommy never made it out, with 12 year old Samantha apparently making a similar claim, although it is unclear whether she actually witnessed anything or not. The Post piece potentially puts the uncle on the scene, which would be passing strange at 11 PM with everyone evidently in bed.

    If as the more credible of the two articles indicates, Tommy never got out, no matter how many names you call me, you will never in a million years get me to retract my view that the Father either should have gotten him out or died trying. Dying in a fire while trying to save one’s son is a horrible way to go, but it is orders of magnitude less terrible than living another 20 years with the knowledge you geeked when the crunch came.

    I’m not convinced a captain should go down with the ship, but by golly, he’d better not be the first person in the life raft.

  33. concerned islander says:

    in response to Don apparently you are that nieve to believe all that you read or hear on tv and papers, the family did not give specific information that which was gathered wasnt even from close people. The papers and news published alot of false things including their interpertation of the fire and rescue. there was no vision in the house they were all together they believed tom was outside for he was with them on their way out, when he realised he was not ouside he ran up a ladder to get in his window for that was where he would be. the window was from the 1920s they could not get in his father and uncle ran into the fire where firemen would not enter and up the stairs they could not find him in his room despite the screaming for him as they were in his room a fireman found him in his sisters room. I truely hope you do not have to go through something like this yourself a ever for it hurts and it will hurt forever. I pray not only for my family but for your soul for it seems to be lost Donearle and maybe the papers should have posted how the father and uncle ran past the firemen but failed to

  34. concerned islander says:

    find tom in his room for he was in gabrielles room they screamed for him and were searching the room for him, he was not there. he was at the door and believed to have gone outside never was there a doubt he was still there they could not see the smoke was too thick when they found out he was not out already it was too late. Firemen with equipment would not even enter the home when he ran past them you reall know nothing and hopefulyy one day you do not need to read all kinds of inaccuracies in your familes stories and comments from ignorant people such as yourself

  35. concerned islander says:

    i also want to thank poodle and g for our family does hurt from this and this is the reason that the rest of the family does not read the press or comments noone in life should go through this ever this is horrific and yet to see Tommy making such a huge differnece in the lives of stray animals all over is a gift. Sometimes our creator works in odd ways sometimes people are put here for a specific reason and I chose to believe that Toms place with the family was to bring love and we are ever so grateful for God lending him to us for a short but full 9 years 3 1/2 months. His name may end at Tommy the 5th but his legend lives on in all we do and all the strays his foundation will help and the Rainbow Bridge I am certain he has passed with thousand of stray pets

  36. concerned islander says:

    don for his uncle to be passing by at 11pm I agree would be odd but again what the paper failed to mention is that his uncle lived next door and heard the sirens outside his home looked outside and saw the fire sounds like they left alot out huh.. shocking the news papers were inaccurate I never saw such a thing also fails to mention a few words to firemen who would not enter the home until after others did

  37. concerned islander says:

    stefanie, yes there is a place for donations set up which is where he gave his own money to (he had a coffee can which was labled Stray Animal Fund) he would drop it off to the following location…

    Please make a donation in memory of Thomas Monahan to:

    Staten Island Animal Care Center
    3139 Veteran Road West
    Staten Island, New York 10309


  38. anonymous says:

    concerned islander, my thoughts are with your family at this time. I like to think I would do the same thing if my dog was left inside, and I will forever admire Tommy for his courage and love he showed during his few short years. Please dont listed to the nonsense Don Earl says, from his past postings on pretty much every thread on here, it seems like he is not much of an animal lover at all, and definately not the compassionate person Tommy was.

  39. Gregory Parker says:

    I’m so sorry for your lost. I do not know how it feels to lose a son. I mean i’m only a child myself, but you guys had a great son and a great human being that did a very brave thing. I hope God blesses you and your family. You have to remember he will always be with you even though he’s not in front of you. But he will be looking down at you. Best thoughts and wishes.

  40. Gregory Parker says:

    I’m so sorry for your lost. I do not know how it feels to lose a son. I mean i’m only a child myself, but you guys had a great son and a great human being that did a very brave thing. I hope God blesses you and your family. You have to remember he will always be with you even though he’s not in front of you. But he will be looking down at you. Best thoughts and wishes.

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