Home nurse, 64, dies saving paraplegic patient from fire

The homeowner was flown to a burn unit and expected to recover

A 64-year-old home nurse died trying to save her 71-year-old paraplegic patient from a fire before the nurse succumbed to smoke from the blaze, Louisiana authorities said Tuesday. 

The homeowner said Gwendolyn Theus, the nurse, alerted her to a fire inside the home in Delhi, 250 miles north of New Orleans on Monday evening. Theus unsuccessfully tried several times to wheel the woman's bed out of the room, state fire officials said. 

She then pulled the woman from the bed and tried pushing her out of a window, but Theus became overwhelmed by smoke. Neighbors tried to assist through the window before firefighters arrived. 

Firefighters pulled both women out and administered CPR, State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said in a statement. 

A home nurse died Monday trying to save her 71-year-old paraplegic patient from a fire.

A home nurse died Monday trying to save her 71-year-old paraplegic patient from a fire. (Louisiana Fire Marshal)

The homeowner was flown to a burn unit in Mississippi and is expected to recover. Theus could not be revived, Browning said. 

"Ms. Theus’ valiant efforts to put her patient’s life before her own are both admirable and heartbreaking,” he said. “Our prayers are with her loved ones and with the surviving victim for her recovery and loss of her dedicated nurse and friend.”

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The home did have working smoke alarms, officials said. Investigators have not been able to get inside the home to determine the cause due to extensive damage. 

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