Man killed in fire rescued his toddler son from 1983 blaze, wife says

"I just want people to know what type of guy he was," Pattie Johnson said.
Pattie Johnson still has the newspaper clipping from 1983.
On one hand, the brief news story is a reminder of an act of heroism – her future husband's courageous rescue of their 1-year-old son from a burning building.
On the other, it's a symbol of the bizarre twist of fate that claimed her husband's life decades later.
In February 1983, Carl Lee Johnson saved their 1-year-old son from a two-alarm fire on Grant Avenue in Jersey City when he ran back into the six-story apartment building, she said.
His 3-year-old nephew died in the blaze and several other people were injured, including Johnson.
Carl Johnson's life was cut short almost 36 years later when a fire broke out in his basement apartment on Bostwick Avenue on Sept.
He was pulled from the home, but could not be revived.
He was 62.  "I just want people to know what type of guy he was," Pattie Johnson said.
"I just want them to know what happened 36 years ago for the ones who weren't around." The couple had been separated for years at the time of his death, but remained friends, she said, adding that Carl helped her recover from back surgery in September 2017.
"He was there for me.
Anything I needed, he was there." Pattie Johnson, left, and her son Carl Lee Patterson.Courtesy of Pattie Johnson  On the day of the fire in 1983, Carl Johnson and his son were staying with his sister inside the apartment building, Pattie Johnson recalled.
Carl got out of the building when the fire broke out, but when he got outside, he found out the boys were still inside. He then ran into the burning building and grabbed one of them, not realizing it was his own son until they emerged from the smoke.  "My husband's hands were burned because he was trying to feel for them," she said.
The New York Daily News story that describes the fire does not make any mention of the rescue, but Pattie Johnson says Carl was a hero that day.  Born in Alabama, he came to Jersey City in the mid-1970s and married Pattie, who said he loved cooking, riding his bike, and spending time with his dog Sasha.  "He was always in the neighborhood talking to everybody," she said.  As for her son, Carl Lee Patterson, Pattie says he is training to become a therapist.
She said she kept the old newspaper clipping so she could show him what happened in 1983.
"I wanted my son to see it when he got older.
And let him know there was a purpose for his life." A memorial service for Carl Johnson will be held Saturday at noon at True Gospel Holiness Church at 361 Ocean Ave.
in Jersey City. 


Provider, Newark, New Jersey, United States