Martinsburg, WV – The 27-year-old woman who was severely burned in a recent camper trailer explosion at Sleepy Creek Campground died late last week as result of her injuries and her family is calling the woman a hero for ensuring that her only daughter escaped the inferno first.

Nichole E. “Nikki” Robertson Apolinares, of Brunswick, Md., was taken off of life support at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Thursday after developing an infection and losing all brain activity.

“She made sure Victoria was the first one out so she didn’t get as burned,” said the woman’s mother, Charlene E. Markley Robertson, of Hedgesville, on Monday. “She had a heart of gold and she gave us the greatest gift of saving my granddaughter. … She’s my hero.”

The explosion happened earlier this month in Morgan County when Apolinares lit a stove connected to a leaky propane tank. While her daughter, Victoria, was also inside the camper at the time of the accident she was treated and released after only having to spend a day in the hospital, thanks to her mother’s efforts.

Apolinares’ aunt and uncle also escaped serious injury and did not have to be hospitalized. Apolinares sustained second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of her body.

The last time Robertson said she heard her daughter’s voice was during a frantic cell phone call after the accident.

“Somebody called me on the cell phone and Nikki, in the background, was asking me for help. She needed her mom and I said, I don’t know where to come to get you,” Robertson said through tears.

She wouldn’t speak to her again.

“It’s hard. We’re trying to be strong for Nikki. We’re thinking that’s what she would want us to do,” Robertson said. “She was a wonderful daughter. Loved to sing and dance. Loved cooking. Loved helping people. (She was) the best homemaker, the best mother.”

She also loved bears and karaoke. Since her death, both her sisters have gotten bear angel tattoos with her name written in clouds in remembrance. Born in Berkeley County, Apolinares was employed as a certified and geriatrics nursing assistant in Maryland.

“She loved helping people. And everybody seemed to love her,” Robertson said.

After the accident, Apolinares remained in critical condition at Johns Hospital, where she underwent multiple operations. Doctors were planning last Wednesday to perform a fourth surgery, but Robertson said she knew things had turned for the worse.

“We knew when we went into the hospital something wasn’t right,” Robertson said.

Doctors discovered the woman’s blood pressure was worsening and found she had developed an infection. Robertson was told if they operated she would die on the table.

“They didn’t think she was going to make it through the night. We prayed and prayed and they said she’s a trooper. She’s a fighter. So we thought we had a chance again,” Robertson said.

A neurologist later told Robertson her daughter had no brain activity and would still have to remain on life support even if the infection was cured.

Robertson said Apolinares’ daughter also sought to offer assistance to her mother.

“She said mommy has pills at home; can we go get them to make her better? And we said no that’s not going to make her any better. Jesus wants her for his angel,” Roberston said.

When they removed Apolinares from life support, Robertson said she held her daughter’s hand and spoke her final words to her.

“I told her go rest in Jesus, and she was free,” Robertson said.

The family is still in need of assistance due to medical costs incurred during Apolinares’ hospitalization. She did not have medical coverage.