Hero dad rescues family from burning bus: ‘Like looking into hell’

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He literally walked through fire for his family.

Utah father and military veteran Kyle Copeland redefined “fiery resolve” after braving a ferocious blaze to rescue his wife and children from a bus fire — which left them homeless and in serious condition. The story is currently going viral as dad-mirers praised the man’s courage in the face of danger.

“He says he knew he couldn’t let them down and he had to get them out, and die trying,” Copeland’s wife Whitney, 33, told @Haveyoursaystories of her husband’s heroic deed. “I will forever be grateful that Kyle made it to the bus first.”

The fiery fiasco was set in motion after the Copelands sold their house and moved into a converted bus with their four children, whom they decided to homeschool.

Per their Instagram page, the couple wanted to embark on full-time travel that summer to make up for “years filled with military separations, addiction recovery & medical trauma.”

Hero dad Kyle had to be intubated for four days before he was able to speak to his wife.
@haveyoursaystories
Pepper has endured 32 surgeries.
Pepper has endured 32 surgeries.
@haveyoursaystories

All was going well until 10 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 27, when — while in southern Utah — the Copelands’ trailer blew up with three of their four kids inside. The couple had been attaching a trailer outside when their third child, Emree, 6, departed the RV bus and claimed that their propane heater was making noises.

That was when, suddenly, the bus reportedly caught fire and the tank exploded, sparking a blaze that could be seen from miles away in Veyo, Utah.

At that moment, Kade, 10, jumped out of a window, leaving his siblings Krew, 4, and Pepper, 12, in the inferno.

Kyle and Whitney Copeland.
Kyle and Whitney Copeland.
@haveyoursaystories
Kyle and Whitney with son Krew Copeland.
Kyle and Whitney Copeland with son, Krew.
@haveyoursaystories

That’s when Kyle, a former air force intelligence officer, sprang into action and boarded the burning vehicle to save his family.

“Kyle said that he ran through the flames to run to the back of the bus, and he saw Pepper and Krew both standing in the back of the bus in between the bunk beds,” described the distraught mom. “Kyle scooped Krew into his arms, then turned to Pepper, who was stunned.”

“When he grabbed onto her she was very reluctant and started pushing against him,” Whitney continued. “She thought Kade was still inside.”

Pepper, the eldest sibling, suffered burns over 52% of her body.
Pepper, the eldest sibling, suffered burns over 52% of her body.
@haveyoursaystories

Thinking quickly, Kyle put his daughter “in the tightest headlock he could” and “turned towards the flames,” Whitney recalled.

“In that moment, he says, ‘It was as if I was looking right into hell,’” she said. “Then it was as if everything stopped and time froze.”

At that time, Whitney scrambled to help her husband and children escape the RV and beat at the flames engulfing Pepper’s body, suffering burns to her hands in the process.

The bus after the explosion.
The bus after the explosion.
@haveyoursaystories

“I grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the bus and threw my body onto her, patting her down and extinguishing the flames all over her body and hair,” said the courageous mom, who evacuated her family in the nick of time.

A minute later, the vehicle exploded.

“Within one minute — 60 short seconds — of Kyle exiting the bus, the first explosion happened,” said Whitney. “If Kyle would have hesitated, it wouldn’t have worked. I just know the outcome would have been far worse.”

After everyone was clear of the inferno, EMS flight crews arrived and evacuated Kyle, Pepper and Krew — who received the worst of the blaze — to the St. George Regional Hospital, where they were stabilized, KLAS Last Vegas reported. They were then transferred to UMC Lions Burn Care Center for further treatment.

From left to right: Krew, Emree, Kad, and Pepper Copeland pre-explosion.
From left to right: Krew, Emree, Kade and Pepper Copeland pre-disaster.
@haveyoursaystories

All told, Pepper suffered burns over 52% of her body, which forced her to undergo a staggering 32 surgeries. Meanwhile, her younger brother, Krew, was burned on his hands, arms and face and is currently recovering in a temporary home with other family members close to the burn unit.

The heroic patriarch, Kyle, was in such bad shape that he had to be intubated and sedated for four days before he could speak to his wife.

‘Life is good and we choose to see life as a beautiful experience. We are survivors, not victims.’

Fortunately, doctors said the veteran is recovering well, as his burned hands and neck accepted the grafts taken from his thigh. He is slated for several follow-up appointments to treat the burns around his eyes, according to Whitney. The middle children, meanwhile, emerged from the blaze relatively unscathed and are staying with family while their dad and siblings recover.

Despite their strides, Whitney claimed that her husband and two children will never fully heal from their wounds. Nonetheless, she said she’s “grateful” that Kyle “sustained some of the same injuries as the kids,” so the kids “don’t have to walk the path of recovery” by themselves.

Thankfully, the family hasn’t had to go it alone. Following the accident, friends and family have rallied to support the Copelands through donations and salvaging their belongings, as they currently don’t have a home.

A friend also started a GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $242,000 as of Thursday evening.

"He is the dad that got them out and the dad that will get them through this tragedy, alongside them," said Whitney Copeland.
“He is the dad that got them out and the dad that will get them through this tragedy, alongside them,” said Whitney Copeland.
@haveyoursaystories

Kyle, for one, said the harrowing ordeal has made them closer as a family.

“We are becoming so much stronger as a family and feel deeper degrees of compassion and love,” the proud dad gushed. “Life is good and we choose to see life as a beautiful experience. We are survivors, not victims.”

He added that he was particularly grateful for his wife, “who is willing and able to take on enormous stress and responsibility while also being able to nurture and love her family with grace.

“I can run through flames, but don’t ask me to do what she is doing — it’s incredible and divine,” he said.

Ultimately, Whitney believes her kids couldn’t have asked for a better father.

“He is the dad that got them out and the dad that will get them through this tragedy, alongside them,” she said. “I have full confidence in his role to protect and lead.”

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