GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Quick thinking by a homeless panhandler in northwest Grand Rapids may have saved the life of a man sleeping inside a burning building.
Ronnie Daniels may be a vagrant, but some now call him a homeless hero.
"Oh man, I appreciate that guy 100 percent," says Steve Ferguson.
Ferguson, his dog and three cats were sleeping in an apartment above Clips-N-Cuts Beauty Salon last month when a fire started on the first floor. Because he spends most days sitting on a milk carton near the Leonard Street salon, Davis says he knows who many of the residents are and when they are home or at work. He was the only one who realized Ferguson was still inside his upstairs apartment as the building burned.
"I beat on his door and kicked on it," recalls Daniels. "I didn't know if the doorbell would ring, but I was ringing it. [I was] beating the door, kicking it; I almost tore it off and finally he woke up."
Ferguson says Daniels saved his life.
"I was in a very, very deep sleep," he says. "I was tired and I was in a very deep, deep sleep. Another 15 minutes and I don't know if I would have awakened or not."
Until Daniels showed them, even firefighters didn't know there was another apartment upstairs. The door is recessed and kind of hidden from view, especially in the dark.
"He came down and gave me a big bear hug and said, 'Thank God you were my angel'," says Daniels. "I'm just doing what we are supposed to do for each other."
They may not recognize his name, but many people in northwest Grand Rapids already know Daniels by his friendly smile and trademark "Have a blessed day" greeting.