Local heroism merits national recognition

Robin Adair displays awards she’s received for rescuing a baby from a burning house last year. - Tim Kelly/Staff photo
Robin Adair displays awards she’s received for rescuing a baby from a burning house last year.
— image credit: Tim Kelly/Staff photo

Robin Adair had a pretty good week.

The good news that came her way in the past week included finding out that she would receive a Carnegie medal for heroism, and that she won a pair of tickets for a Seattle Seahawks game in a contest.

The prestigious Carnegie award is the latest honor for her lifesaving actions on Aug. 22, 2010, when she climbed through a window into a burning house and rescued an 11-month-old baby.

Adair said her maternal instincts kicked in that day, explaining that she had previously experienced a near-death experience with one of her children.

“I myself would not be able to handle losing a kid, so for me to even think I could stand there and watch another mother lose her kid ... that’s the most horrible thought in the world,” she said Wednesday during an interview.

A couple years ago, when her toddler son was only three weeks old, he had to undergo two heart surgeries.

“He was on a life-support machine; we almost lost him,” she recalled.

“I’ve had that nervous breakdown ... so I think that was part of my instinct.”

Adair and her boyfriend, Shane Berube, were driving from Shelton back to Port Orchard that Sunday afternoon when they saw the porch of a manufactured home on fire along State Route 3 near Belfair.

They pulled over, and “before the car was even in park, I jumped out,” she said.

The woman who lived there, Katrina Eash, had gotten out with three of her children, but the baby was sleeping in a playpen in a back bedroom.

Adair saw her jumping up trying to reach the window of the bedroom where her baby was, which was the only room not yet on fire. But the lower ledge of the window was about six feet above the ground.

“I kicked my flip-flops off and she boosted me up in the window,” Adair recalled. She couldn’t see anything in the smoke-filled room, but she found the playpen and picked up the baby, Bobbi Stott.

When Berube climbed in the window to help get them out, he hit the floor and could only see Adair’s feet “in the glow of the fire coming under the door,” she said.

He climbed back out and she was able to follow his voice to the window, where she handed the baby out to safety.

Moments after Adair was outside again — and while she was trying to find her call phone she had dropped — the windows blew out from the fire, which destroyed the home.

For her brave actions that saved a child’s life, she was given an award for valor from Mason County Fire District 2, and she was honored last spring with a Good Neighbor Award at the Red Cross Real Heroes breakfast. She also did television interviews after the rescue, and said another organization is sending her a hero jacket.

“It’s nice to be recognized for something I did,” she said Wednesday, although “I didn’t exactly want that much attention.”

She was pleased with another development soon after that memorable day.

“In September right after that fire I got pregnant with my third son,” who was born three months ago, she said.

Adair had been notified previously that she was being considered for the honor from the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, which comes with a monetary award.

“I hadn’t heard from them for quite awhile, so I thought nothing was happening,” she said.

But then came the exciting news ... that she won tickets for last Sunday’s Seahawks game.

Inside her manufactured home that has Seahawks banners and blankets hung in every window, Adair reflected on what she did and the accolades she’s received.

“I feel like a good person,” she said, “I don’t feel like a hero.”

One other thing that’s stuck with her since that day is the memory of seeing lots of people drive by that house on fire without stopping, and such a lack of caring still galls her.

“I have kids, I’m a nobody, but I stopped and helped that kid because I’m a human being,” she said.

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