Good Samaritan helps girl who fell into fire pit

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A 4-year-old girl is recovering from severe burns after she fell into a fire pit at a camp site Friday.

Danica McDaniel and her family went camping at Lake Livingston State Park Friday. Danica was playing with two other kids when she tripped and fell into the fire pit filled with hot embers. The left side of her body is covered in serious burns.

Danica's mother, Monya, watched her daughter fall from a distance.

"She was just screaming and flailing and screaming, 'get the fire off of me, get the fire off of me," Monya McDaniel said.

Monya pulled her daughter out of the pit and tried to brush off the hot ash.

"And I realized I wasn't brushing off ash, I was brushing off her skin," Monya said, "It was falling off of her. It's kind of hard to go back to that."

Joe Judge was also camping that day with his family. He heard Danica's screams and took action.

"I grabbed a bag of ice and a big 'ole wok -- is what we used because we were feeding 21 people the next day -- so that's why I had the big wok, and I ran back over there," Judge said. "I put the ice in there and I started talking to her. Me and her mom were trying to convince her to get into the pot."

Danica stayed inside the pot filled with ice until an ambulance arrived. Monya said doctors told her the ice and cool water kept the burns from worsening.

Monya and her husband John call Joe Judge their guardian angel. Judge visited Danica at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital Tuesday.

"I really think that you are our gift from God," Monya told Judge.

Judge plans on staying in touch with the McDaniels. He wants to visit them again when Danica is fully recovered.

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