BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Trapped in her home, with fire all around, Nicole Garrio was running out of options.
"I had nowhere to go," she said Thursday from her Harborview Medical Center bed. But she knew dying was not an option. "If I had to, I'd stay in the shower and run the water the whole time, I would do anything. I just knew it wasn't my time yet. It couldn't be."
An explosion Tuesday at Garrio's Bellevue apartment complex appears to have been intentionally set. Fire surrounded her unit, and she frantically called 911 for help. Garrio's only hope was to jump from her 3rd floor window.
"I looked down and they were telling me to jump," she said. "I just thought, I have two buff guys down there. One was an ex-firefighter. He was yelling to me saying, 'we'll get you. We'll catch you.'"
Garrio is no stranger to adventure. Her favorite pastime is scuba diving with sharks. She uses that passion to inspire her 8th graders at Bellevue's Big Picture Middle and High School. When faced with a life or death decision, she asked herself, what would she tell those kids.
"I've always told them it's important to advocate for yourself, take care of yourself and never give up on anything. I want them to know that you can do whatever you put your mind to."
Garrio now faces three months of surgeries and rehab for her shattered ankle, broken shin bone fractured shoulder, and fractured vertebrae. In addition to all that, she lost everything in the fire. When Garrio's thoughts go there, however, she focuses on that retired firefighter, a neighbor who also lost everything to the explosion, and how he held her hand until help arrived.
"I asked him what are we gonna do. We both lost everything. He said we just take it one step at a time."
Donations to the Friends of Nicole Garrio Fund are being accepted at Bank of America branches.