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Man dies after rescuing bird from fiery condo

September 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A San Dimas man rushed into his burning condo to rescue a pet bird. He saved the cockatoo but paid with his own life. The man's family says they're not surprised by his actions.

Russell Bennett's family spent the day going through his belongings at his home of 10 years, sorting out what the fire didn't damage or destroy.

The fire broke out on Tuesday in his rented condo. The 61-year-old was able to drive his suburban out of his garage, but then he went back in to save his cockatoo named Mo.

"When he came out, he had Mo on his arm, and then it was shortly after that when a neighbor said, 'Man down.' We're hearing that he collapsed after he came out of the house," said his sister-in-law Nancy Bennett. "We're just thinking he may have had a massive heart attack. We're all in shock."

Russell Bennett was a retired banker who collected antiques and rare photos and frames. He's had Mo since the cockatoo was born 14 years ago. Like any pet, Mo was part of Bennett's family.

"Wherever Russ went, it's safe to say Mo was right there, and if he wasn't on his arm, then you could hear him in the back of the truck because he always kept a cage just for Mo in the truck," Nancy Bennett said.

Russell Bennett is survived by two college-aged sons, two brothers, an older sister and his parents. Mo will be staying with a family friend until one of Russell Bennett's sons is able to take him in.

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