Paraplegic War Veteran Left Homeless After Chester Fire - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Paraplegic War Veteran Left Homeless After Chester Fire

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CHESTER, Pa. -

A disabled veteran is proving he's a survivor not only overseas, but right here at home.

Intense flames consumed his apartment earlier this month, forcing him to make a decision whether to live or to die. He chose life by making a drastic move.

FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson caught on with him on Monday.

"I saw the fire getting close to me and I said I'm not going to get burned," said Carlos O'Jeda who almost died in a fire on August 12th. 

Investigators say it started in the kitchen of his apartment on Meadow Lane in Chester. Carlos says as smoke and flames raged, he was forced to make a split second decision.

"I couldn't go to the door that's why I got close to the window, and I said I got to do it. So I jumped from the window," he said.

Carlos who is a paraplegic and Iraqi war combat veteran came back after 10 days in the hospital to see the distance that he hurled himself out of his wheelchair from a window, which was nearly 20 feet from the ground.

"I'm a Marine. We do crazy stuff, but the feeling inside, my spirit inside and how I'm feeling is hurt."

Carlos had to have surgery from injuries he suffered during the fall. But he's hurt even more because he lost everything in the fire, including his electrical wheelchair and now he's out on the street.

"I don't know where I'm going to live," said Carlos. He rummaged through some of his belongings left outside, sad to see charred pieces of his military camouflage. He's seen a lot as a veteran, but says the fire that almost trapped him is one of the scariest.

"Over there when you get shootings and you see the bombs you can run and you can hide, but when you get in a fire you get trapped. You can get burned up," he said. 

He's happy he's alive; however, he's worried about how he will regain the independence he lost the night of the fire.

"I need a place to live to go back to the way I was living and taking care myself. I did everything almost by my own self," said Carlos.

He's waiting to see if the VA can find him another place to live, but he's not sure how long that will be. His former landlord says he doesn't have any vacant units right now. In the meantime, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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