Emmanuel Mensah wanted to join the Army from the time he moved to the U.S. from Ghana about six years ago.
Mensah, 28, who recently joined the military and was home from basic training visiting family and friends for the holidays in New York, died Thursday while getting people out of a massive fire at a Bronx apartment.
“That’s his nature,” his father Kwabena Mensah told The New York Post. “He was trying to help people out from the fire, and unfortunately he lost his life. He tried to do his best.”
The fire, sparked from a child playing with a stove, engulfed the five-floor building, leaving more than 12 people dead. It is the city’s deadliest fire since the 1990 Happy Land Social Club arson, which left 87 dead, according to the Post.
Mensah’s roommate was the last to see him before the fire broke out on the third floor.
“He was telling the roommate to not come out of the apartment because there was smoke. But when they rescued everyone from the windows, we couldn’t find him,” Kwabena, 62, told the New York Daily News.
He visited four hospitals, holding out hope he would be reunited with his son.
Emmanuel’s body was found in a different apartment on the third floor.
“I came home praying for something good, but unfortunately it’s bad,” Kwabena told the Post. “He never made it out.”