A quick-thinking Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy helped save the life of a woman who set herself on fire Tuesday night.
Lyneda Vilme, 33, a resident of Waters Edge Colony mobile home park, was arguing with her husband when she lit herself on fire in front of him, their 8-year-old daughter and Deputy John Gabay.
Vilme was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami in stable condition.
Gabay responded to the trailer park at 7:36 p.m. and found Vilme's husband, Jean Brutus, 32, restraining her hands as she sat in her underwear on a chair outside with a gasoline container on her lap, according to a offense report.
When Brutus saw the deputy, he released her, she turned the container upside down and soaked herself in gasoline as the deputy charged at her, reports say. Gabay grabbed the container and threw it to the corner in the yard as she reached for a lighter, reports say. Gabay and Vilme struggled for the lighter, but Gabay was able to get it away from her, reports say.
During the struggle, Vilme was yelling at Gabay that she wanted the pill she received before and that it was all the deputy's fault -- generally not making any sense, Gabay wrote in his report.
"She turned her back on me and all of a sudden, she had a pack of matches," Gabay wrote. "I am not sure where she had these hidden because she was only wearing a bra and a thong. With one strike of the match she was totally on fire from head to toe. She then started flailing her arms around and screaming as she fell to the ground."
Gabay grabbed a coat nearby and started smothering the flames while Brutus grabbed a garden hose.
The fire out, Vilme "got right back and tried pushing her way past to get into the house," Gabay reported. "She was still yelling that it was my fault, but based on what I just saw, there was no way I was letting her into the house, because I though she might grab a knife and try to kill herself."
Other deputies and paramedics began arriving and all struggled to control Vilme, who was fighting them as they tried to prepare her for an airlift to Miami, reports say. Paramedics got as far as Key West International Airport, but due to her combative nature took her to Lower Keys Medical Center instead.
"When she calmed down there, then they flew her to Miami," Herrin said.
Her condition was not immediately available Wednesday night.
"We want to give our deputy credit as well as the husband on the scene, who did a great job assisting the deputy and was trying to help," said Sheriff-elect Rick Ramsay. "It goes to show how difficult it is to be a law enforcement officer these days. It's a day in the life of a sheriff's deputy, but obviously a more dramatic day than usual."