Lawrence police officer Ivan Soto helped other residents evacuate their homes Thursday during the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, even while knowing his own home was burning.
Soto returned home to make sure one of his teenage daughters was safe, according to CBS. He then went back to work.
“We relieved him. But he didn’t want to leave,” Lawrence Police Sgt. John Dushame told the Eagle Tribune.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up by a family friend, and it’s already raised over $30,000 as of Friday evening. The money will go toward helping the family of four — Soto, his wife, Veronica, and two daughters, Destiny, 15, and Aalyah, 13 — get their lives back in order after their home was among those impacted by explosions and fires in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover that left one teenager dead and at least 10 injured.
“Unfortunately the Soto’s house were one of the many that caught on fire. … and they all have lost everything they own,” wrote Olivia Tuccolo, who set up the fundraiser.
Soto became a police officer this year, and his wife recently opened her own hair salon, Tuccolo wrote. The couple purchased their home almost three years ago, she said.
In a message relayed by Tuccolo to the fundraising site, Veronica Soto expressed her appreciation for the help.
“Tonight I will most definitely hold my family tighter than ever before,” she said. “Tonight we lost our cats, who if you knew us well you knew those babies were family. This pains me more than anything as what we lost was all materialistic and can be replaced with time.”
Neighbors say it is tough to look at this Lawrence police officer’s home. They say he was on duty and pulled up to make sure his daughter, who was home at the time, was ok @wbz then he helped evacuate all his neighbors and went back to work. pic.twitter.com/VOjbLXBTjZ
— Lisa Gresci (@Lisa_Gresci) September 14, 2018
All of the GoFundMe accounts set up to help those affected by the disaster have been gathered here. (And here are additional ways to help those affected by the explosions and fires.)