As Johnathon Robertson's home in Grand Prairie, La., went up in flames Friday night, the 42-year-old Navy veteran shunned his survival instincts and heeded his paternal ones, rushing through the fire to save his young son, Johnathon Jr., KATC reports. "He made the choice that his child's life was more important than his own and that speaks to the type of man that he was," says his brother-in-law. While Johnathon (reported to be either 10 or 11 years old) survived the inferno and is now in stable condition at a local hospital with burns on more than 40% of his body, his dad succumbed to similar injuries and died on Sunday.
"We have the training, the tools, and the gear to enter a structure fire. That's what we do," local fire chief Ray Mendenhall tells KATC. "This man went through the fire to rescue his son with none of that." Robertson's wife, Laura, was also inside the home but managed to get out, then tried to help her husband and son escape the flames by knocking on the outside of the house so they could hear the signal and find their way out through the thick smoke, KLFY reports. Fire officials are still searching for the cause of the fire, though Mendenhall acknowledges that supporting the Robertson family is paramount. "The cause is not the focus," he tells KATC. "Not as much as helping the family right now." (A Tennessee dad saved his 8-year-old son from a black bear.)