Sole survivor of 1972 Rault Center fire passes away

Natalie Smith, 81 (FOX 8 photo)
Natalie Smith, 81 (FOX 8 photo)

The sole survivor of the Rault Center fire in New Orleans has passed away.

Family members tell FOX 8 that Natalie Smith died after a battle with COPD. She was 81.

Nov. 29 marks 42 years since flames tore through the downtown high rise. On the 15th floor, Smith was one of five women trapped inside a beauty salon.

New Orleanians watched on live television as each of them jumped out of a window to the roof of another building eight stories below.

Three of the women died on impact. One survived the fall, but died about a month later.

Smith recovered after being in a coma for months. In a 2012 interview, she told FOX 8 in 2012 how the tragedy actually changed her life for the better.

After the accident, Smith and her husband, Roy, started a ministry to help kids who were behind bars after getting into trouble with the law.

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