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Girl, 10, saves grandmother allegedly set on fire by ex-boyfriend

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 12:39 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 12:42 AM CDT
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SAN ANTONIO (KSAT) - A 10-year-old girl from Texas is being hailed as a hero for saving her grandmother’s life after police say the woman’s ex-boyfriend set her on fire during a dispute.

Deborah Romo, 52, had just gotten off work as a certified nursing assistant around 8 p.m. on Aug. 31 when her ex-boyfriend, 43-year-old Roberto Cocolan, began arguing with her. Romo’s granddaughter, 10-year-old Nevaeh Gallegos, was in her room when she heard her grandmother screaming.

Family members say if it weren't for the quick actions of 10-year-old Nevaeh Gallegos, her...
Family members say if it weren't for the quick actions of 10-year-old Nevaeh Gallegos, her grandmother, 52-year-old Deborah Romo, may not be alive after her ex-boyfriend allegedly set her on fire.(Source: Family photos, KSAT via CNN)

Police say Cocolan poured gas on Romo then used a lighter to set her on fire. Nevaeh witnessed the entire incident.

“He was standing and pouring gasoline on her, and she started crying. I pushed him and tried to hit him, but he still continued doing it,” Nevaeh said. “She was trying to take off her clothes because the fire was on her.”

Nevaeh says the room filled with so much smoke that she couldn’t see her grandmother anymore, but then, she heard Romo tell her to go next door to her uncle’s house. The 10-year-old quickly grabbed her 2-year-old sister, covered her face to prevent smoke inhalation and ran to get help.

The family says Nevaeh is a hero.

“Any 10-year-old could have easily froze up or just went into shock,” said Jay Gallegos, Romo’s son-in-law.

Romo’s family had to use water from a mop bucket to extinguish the fire, alleging Cocolan cut off the water to the house before the incident.

Romo is now in the hospital with second-and third-degree burns over 35% of her body.

“She has burns from [her] face, ears, arms, all the way down,” said Ambeer Vega, Romo’s daughter.

Neveah has a message of love for her grandmother.

“I want to tell her I love her so much. Her family loves her, and her friends love her. We hope she can come home soon,” she said.

Romo's ex-boyfriend, 43-year-old Roberto Cocolan, was arrested for aggravated assault with a...
Romo's ex-boyfriend, 43-year-old Roberto Cocolan, was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury and arson. His bond has been set at $500,000.(Source: KSAT via CNN)

The family says Romo was in an abusive relationship with Cocolan, but they never expected the abuse to go this far. They believe Romo had been scared to leave the relationship. They hope her story will raise awareness for domestic violence.

Cocolan was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury and arson. His bond has been set at $500,000.

“I want him to sit in there, and I want him to suffer the way my mom having to sit there in the hospital and go through that pain,” Vega said.

Copyright 2021 KSAT via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.