A Florida officer has every reason to be grateful as the kids in his neighborhood work to raise money for him after he narrowly escapes a fire accident.
After years of service to the Maitland community, School Resource Manager Josh Rotarius has experienced what it is like to receive back from society. The policeman, known to many in the community for his dedicated work with the Maitland PD Swat Team, suffered a terrible blow a month ago when he was the victim of a fire.
The incident caused him to lose everything. But the residents of the Maitland community don’t want to stay away and decide to help her get back on her feet.
A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE
On the evening of July 1, 2022, Rotarius, who has worked with Maitland law enforcement for eight years, went fishing. Upon returning home, he fell asleep, only to be awakened moments later by the barking of his dog, a silver lab named Null.
The whole house was dark and filled with smoke, with the roof on fire. Just as Dommerich’s elementary school resource officer fled, he realized that Null was still trapped inside. He then decided to enter the building and release his dog.
Both men eventually made it out alive, but as a result the officer suffered severe burns to his hands and feet. He also inhaled excessive smoke in the process, barely going to his neighbor’s house to ask for help.
Lake County Fire Rescue, Tavares Fire Department and Mount Dera Fire Department responded to the scene. Rescuers managed to put out the fire, which blew a huge hole in Rotarius’ apartment, destroying everything in its path.
Other objects in the building, which escaped the raging flame, ended up being damaged by the water, leaving the officer with nothing to salvage.
Investigators believe the house caught fire after being struck by lightning. Fortunately, no lives were lost in the incident, and the officer received emergency medical assistance and is now recovering.
THE COMMUNITY COMES THROUGH
Weeks after surviving the near-death encounter and losing everything he owned, the Maitland community decided to give back in their own way. Several neighbors have been trying to help, contributing their quota to make sure he gets through this moment.
The most touching gesture came from the neighborhood children, led by 7-year-old Maddie Moore. Along with her friend, the elementary student set up a summer lemonade stand as a show of support for the officer.
The children managed to raise $350 thanks to the stand. They also set up a GoFundMe page in his name, which raised up to $450.
The girls used the accumulated amount to surprise Rotarius with a table full of treats, a dog bed and dog daycare passes. The gesture deeply touched the officer. He disclosed:
“You don’t know how much people care about you until something like this happens. And then a lot of people, even little kids, do something like this to help, help Null. It’s incredible.”
The experience made the officer realize that he was not alone in his small community, with neighbors ready to give him lemonade when life threw lemons at him.
ROTARIUS COLLEAGUES ALSO HAD
Besides the tremendous outpouring of love from his neighbors, fellow officers from the Maitland Police Department also offered Rotarius a helping hand on his long road to recovery.
Along with their individual donations which kept pouring in, the officers decided to grow beards in honor of the officer, among other symbolic gestures. These gestures have helped Rotarius realize how his years of service have shone in many lives. He thinks :
“You see a lot of things that are really difficult. And you’re usually there trying to fix something. So when it’s other people helping you, you don’t know how to take it at first, but it makes you definitely think about it, you’re doing a good job.”
The story of the good officer who spent years serving his community and almost gave his life for his dog has touched many hearts since it went viral.
IN HONOR OF A BRAVE COP
Many have taken to social media to send heartfelt words to Rotarius while wishing him a speedy and smooth recovery. Many also hailed her big heart and bravery, with the GoFundme page receiving more donations. A Facebook post read:
“The Rotarius officer is the best. Shari, all of our CCI dogs who know him (Negri, Giorgio, Nesley, Hem) send their best wishes for a full and speedy recovery, both physically and for all his possessions.
Other netizens praised the children for showing kindness to an official, doing what little they could.
For them, such touching stories prove that there is still goodness in the world and encourage others to do the same.