Friends remember man who died trying to save others in Surry County fire; ‘This county has lost a lot by losing him’

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Ryan Gwyn
Ryan Gwyn

SURRY COUNTY, N.C. — Three people are dead after a fire erupted at a Surry County apartment Monday morning.

Ryan Gwyn, 22-year-old Makaila Moses and 19-year-old Katherine Woods died. One other woman remains in critical condition.

Gwyn got out of the apartment and then tried to run back in to save others, but the man died in the process, according to family.

“That’s just the type of guy he was,” is all Sherry Johnson could say when she saw the torched apartment building.

She was one of dozens of people who drove by the destroyed building on College Place Apartments off South Main Street.

She said that Ryan woke up to the sound of cars exploding at about 3:22 a.m. She believes Ryan rescued a female inside his apartment and then ran back inside to try and save his two female neighbors.

“It doesn’t shock me at all,” Sherry said, when FOX8 asked her if she was surprised that he lost his life trying to save others. “That’s just the kind of person he was. He was just a sweetheart. I don’t think I know anybody that didn’t like him. … This county has lost a lot by losing him.”

Gwyn's family and friends released the following statement:

"I would like to see this young man recognized for his act of selflessness, and to show that there is still hope in the younger generation. That we still have good people in this world, that will answer the call for a neighbor. In their time of need. No matter the cost."

The fire spread through the upstairs apartments within several minutes.

Two other residents, Lauren and Andrew, had to jump from their apartment window on the second floor.

The couple lost everything, including Lauren’s wedding dress. She and Andrew were planning to have their wedding in seven days.

ATF and SBI agents are still investigating the cause of the fire. However, multiple neighbors tell us that authorities are looking for a man who is believed to have intentionally started it. They say he does not live in the complex.

Investigators were not able to confirm that information but say they will be able to release more information in the coming days.

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