NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The woman pulled from her burning home by Mayor Cory Booker says she would be dead if he hadn't come to her rescue, but that she was in such a fog at the time she doesn't remember him lifting her out of bed or carrying her to safety.
Zina Hodge, who was released from the hospital Tuesday, told Fox TV station My9 before her discharge that she was gasping for air and delusional when Booker pulled her from her smoky second-floor bedroom late last Thursday.
Hodge said she was asleep when the fire broke out, apparently in the kitchen next to her bedroom, but remembered little about the ordeal or the mayor's actions.
"I didn't even see him. I don't even remember him picking me up. But I heard him — calling me," she told the station.
But, Hodge said, she knows she owes her life to him.
"I'm blessed, man. You know what I mean," she said. "If Cory wouldn't have come in there and rescued me I would have died in there."
Hodge, 47, was admitted in serious condition to the burn intensive-care unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Her injuries included burns to the back and smoke inhalation. The hospital would not provide any details Tuesday about any continuing treatment she might need.
The mayor suffered smoke inhalation and burned his right hand when, against the wishes of his security detail, he rushed up the stairway of his neighbor's burning house to rescue Hodge.
Once they were outside her house, which is next door to Booker's home, the mayor's main concern was getting her into an ambulance, Hodge said.
Booker was also taken to a hospital for treatment but released the same night.
His office confirmed that the mayor had visited Hodge in the hospital but declined further comment.
Members of Booker's security detail got several other members of Hodge's family out of the house before the mayor arrived home. They tried to hold Booker back, fearing for his safety, but he insisted he go inside because he believed the trapped woman's life was in danger.
A day after the rescue, the 42-year-old mayor, a 6-foot-3 former college football player, said he didn't feel bravery, "I felt terror." He said he experienced a "proverbial come-to-Jesus moment."
He also downplayed his actions, saying he did what any good neighbor would do.
But thousands took to Twitter to hail him as a hero, Gov. Chris Christie lauded him for his "brave move," and Newark's fire director described Booker as one of the most heroic men he'd ever met.