OPD sergeant recalls “the worst scene he has ever been on”

 Odessa police Sgt. Jon Foust has seen a lot during his 28 years with the department but nothing compared with what he saw Sunday when flames engulfed a single-story home on North Lauderdale Avenue.
 A father who was trying to douse the flames with a water hose from the backyard screamed about his 9-month-old son who was still inside, prompting Foust to charge inside the inferno without any protective fire gear on to save the child, witnesses said.
 But the thick billowing smoke that came from throughout the house doomed Foust’s effort. The only noise he heard during those tense moments came from the infant’s father outside, Foust said.
 “I’m still pretty devastated by the call,” Foust said Thursday. “It’s a scene that’s definitely going to be with me for a long, long time.”
 Foust was hospitalized for two days at Medical Center Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation but was released this week and went back on duty. The ordeal did aggravate his diabetes and hyper tension, Foust said.
 The 39-year-old father of the infant boy, Erick Thomas, was discharged Monday from the University Medical Center in Lubbock.
 Thomas reportedly suffered burn injuries and was flown out to the hospital. Attempts to reach Thomas for comment Thursday were unsuccessful. His son has been identified as Sincere Thomas.
 “This is the worst scene I have ever been on,” Foust said.
 A cause has not been determined as a joint investigation between the Odessa Police Department and the Odessa Fire/Rescue remains open. The OPD is treating the blaze as an unattended death which led to its involvement in the investigation, OPD spokesman Cpl. Steve LeSueur said.
 The OPD is awaiting autopsy and toxicology results on Sincere Thomas, which is part of the investigation, LeSueur said.
 Flames scorched two rooms of the home at 1408 N. Lauderdale Ave., making it uninhabitable, fire authorities said. Sincere Thomas’ mother and two siblings were not hurt during the fire.
 Hugh E. Adams, a Forney resident, owns the North Lauderdale home the Thomas family occupied and said nothing like what happened Sunday ever occurred during the 3 1/2 years they lived there.
 Witnesses said Foust ran inside the burning home in an attempt to save Sincere. Calling the incident “a tragic situation,” LeSueur said police officers often deal with life and death situations while on duty.
 “It’s a lot more than people realize,” LeSueur said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the (Thomas) family.”
 LeSueur also credited Foust for what he did.
 “Thankfully, he’s OK,” LeSueur said. “It was a heroic act. (Foust) would do anything for anyone.”
 Foust said Sunday’s fire occurred before he was going to rotate to a night shift starting at 7 p.m. for the next three months. He has not been in contact with the Thomas family since the fire, Foust said.
 Foust, a 48-year-old father of two adult children, one of whom is an Ector County Sheriff’s deputy, and grandfather of four, has been involved with the local Police Activities League for some time and is often in contact with children, he said.
 Foust’s frequent contact with area children conditioned him over time to do whatever he can to protect them, he said.
 “You just don’t ever want to see any the kids hurt,” Foust said. Asked if he would do it again Foust unhesitatingly said he would out of a desire to help people in spite of all that he has seen during his time as a police officer.
 “Everyday I would,” Foust said.