‘Don't Let Me Die': Dallas Firefighter First on Scene to Help Italy High School Shooting Victim

"From the time I left downtown to the time I got to the school probably was less than two minutes. It seemed like an eternity"

The 15-year-old Italy High School student injured in a school shooting Monday is recovering at a Dallas hospital, and the first firefighter to reach her at the scene is sharing his story.

Dallas Fire-Rescue Capt. Charles Hyles is a longtime Italy resident who said his Monday morning started out about as routine as it gets.

"Fighting with the kids to get ready for school," he said with a smile. "Dropped them off, two at the high school, one at the elementary. Usually on my days off I'll be at my uncle's store. They're all retired firefighters."

Then, shortly before 8 a.m., Hyles said, one of the store's employees came in and said there was a shooting at the school and that "kids were running everywhere."

Hyles ran out to his truck and drove to the school, his mind racing, fearing his sons might be hurt.

"From the time I left downtown to the time I got to the school probably was less than two minutes. It seemed like an eternity. It's the scaredest I've ever been," he said.

Hyles went inside, where he saw an injured 15-year-old girl being cared for by school staff.

"Started assessing her situation and her wounds, quickly asked whether there were any other people shot. In the back of my mind I needed to know that my kids were OK," Hyles said.

He was told she was the sole victim.

Decades of training then kicked in.

Hyles remembers what the girl told him: "I don't want to die. Don't let me die."

"And I said, 'OK, tell me where you're hurt,'" Hyles said. "We kept assuring her that she was going to be fine. The strongest little girl I've ever met. Twenty-nine years of doing this, and of all the patients, she might have been the toughest."

Hyles stayed with the girl.

"Got to the helicopter, put her on it, gave her a little kiss on the head and told her I would see her at the hospital," Hyles said. "I wanted to assure her that I will see you again."

And he followed through with that promise.

He recounted the moment he walked into her hospital room at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. "I walked in the room, she started crying and said, 'You didn't let me die.' And I said, 'No, baby. God didn't let you die.'"

Hyles is quick to praise everyone else who jumped into action Monday morning, from school faculty to the Italy Volunteer Fire Department and other first responders who swarmed the school and got other students to safety.

"I didn't do anything different," he said. "There's over 1,800 firefighters in Dallas, ungodly amount of volunteer firefighters. Every one of them would've done the same thing. I'm not the hero. I'm just the piece of the puzzle that God put in place to do this."

Authorities say the 16-year-old boy who opened fire inside the school has been charged as a juvenile with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

His name has not been released.

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