Mom dies in fire, sacrificing herself for newborn daughter

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WYOMING, IL (KWQC) – A new mother and her 12-day-old baby girl were in their Illinois home when a fire broke out Monday morning.

Wyoming Fire Chief Ed Fogelsonger says Shelby Carter strapped her baby girl in a car seat before dropping her out of a window to save her life.

Fire crews found Carter deceased on the second floor of the home near a window.

Carter turned 21 years old on Sunday, the day before the fire. People who knew her say that was the first day she spent as a mother before making the ultimate sacrifice, and now, they say that’s how many in the community will remember her.

“A lot of praying, a lot of tears,” Stacy Unhold, a family friend of Carter’s said.

Unhold says the wounds are still fresh in the Wyoming community.

“A lot of not knowing what to do, you know, you wake up this morning and you just feel empty almost,” she said. “It was really quiet this morning in town, very quiet.”

Unhold says the town is now rallying behind the family, as they remember Carter.

“Never caused any trouble, just a good girl, definitely a good girl,” she said.

Uphold grew up with Carter’s family and for many months, the two worked together at One Eleven Coffee.

She says Carter wanted to be a mother more than anything.

“She definitely dreamed of her baby and was very much looking forward to having her child,” Unhold said.

And for just short of 11 days, Carter got to be that mom, before she dropped her baby out of a window in a car seat when her home went up in flames. All to save her baby girl’s life, while sacrificing her own.

“You put yourself in that situation and you know it wouldn’t be easy,” Unhold said.

Unhold says she will now remember a lot of things about Carter.

“Her smile and just every time you saw her she always had a smile, she always smiled, it was such a big warm smile, beautiful smile,” Unhold said.

But most of all, Unhold says she will remember how good of a mother Carter was.

“She was very not selfish, very unselfish and her heart and her love was that baby,” Unhold said. “For sure, she’s not going to be forgotten.”

Carter’s mother is now with the baby in the hospital. She says the newborn baby girl is, “doing great, Shelby made sure she was safe.”

Chief Fogelsonger says the cause of the fire is undetermined at this time. The investigation is ongoing.

He says the house is a total loss. People wanting to help the family can drop off clothes, diapers and monetary donations at the ambulance and fire stations in Wyoming.

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