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Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015

Rhodes returns home to heal

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A nurse who survived a fall July 27 from the third story ledge of her Salt Lake City, Utah, apartment is back at her Salem home.

Vicki Rhodes, 50, who broke both her feet in the fall, is healing after her escape from death, said Pat Crouch, Rhodes' mother.

Over the next several months, Rhodes said she will rehab her body. It may be a year before she can go back to work, Rhodes said.

Moments before fire engulfed her apartment, Rhodes said she heard a knock at her door.

Awakened by the sound, she arose from her bed and peered out the door.

Within seconds flames and smoke filled the room and Rhodes rushed to her balcony -- three stories from the ground.

As the flames grew more intense, Rhodes, a Salem native, climbed onto the ledge.

Hanging from the side of the building, Rhodes said her mind was engulfed with only a few thoughts -- her twin sons, Heath and Keith Rhodes, and their children.

At that moment, Rhodes made a decision that saved her life.

"I decided I wasn't going to burn so I fell," Rhodes said. "I knew I would get hurt, but I didn't want to die."

According to published reports, the fire started inside a storage room. Two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation fighting the blaze.

Three other residents jumped from the building as the blaze broke out, according to media reports.

Despite her broken feet and bruises to most of her body, Rhodes said she is "upbeat" and "thankful to be alive."

About 15 seconds elapsed from the time Rhodes awoke to the fall from the ledge, she said.

Working as a traveling nurse, Rhodes said she was in Utah to be close to her son, Keith Rhodes, who serves at an Air Force Base in Mountain Home, Idaho.

Newspapers, radio and televisions stations in Salt Lake City covered Rhodes' story while she was recovering inside Utah's Health Sciences Center, she said.

A former nurse at Fulton County Hospital and White River Medical Center in Batesville, Rhodes said, she worked with open-heart cardiac patients.

If she is able to return to work, Rhodes said she will encourage her patients to appreciate the life that God has given them.

"I've dealt with life and death a lot in my job," Rhodes said. "But I don't think I appreciated enough the life that God had given me; I do now and I will cherish every moment."

Who knocked on the door when the hallway was filled with flames and smoke?

"No one could have been in the hallway," Rhodes said. "It must have been my guardian angel. She saved my life."

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