First Responders Catch Toddler and Father as They Escape from Apartment Window during Fire
Family jumps from second-story window in South Brunswick, New Jersey
First responders were able to catch a toddler and father as they jumped from a second-story window to escape an apartment building fire in New Jersey.
Video footage and images show the building in South Brunswick as it was overwhelmed by the blaze last month.
One father was home alone with his 3-year-old son when the fire took over the apartment building he was in.
By the time first responders arrived on the scene, the balcony was spewing crackling flames and heavy smoke.
More heavy smoke was drifting out from around various spots in the building.
The responders had initially thought the building was cleared — but then they saw the father at the second-story window.
A moment later, he disappeared, and they grew concerned.
Police and firefighters catch baby thrown from second floor by Dad escaping the fire. pic.twitter.com/kElctnA8AO— So Brunswick PD (@SoBrunswickPD) March 7, 2022
“When he went back in, I didn’t know what he was going back in for, and that kind of concerns us when something like that happens,” Fire Chief Chris Perez said, according to WLS-TV.
“So luckily, he came back fairly quickly with the child.”
The father was able to find his toddler through the darkness that was consuming their apartment, get to the window, break through the screen and clear debris blocking their way — but then he was faced with the two-story drop.
Thankfully, three South Brunswick police officers, a firefighter, and a nearby construction worker saw the movement and approached the window, urging him to leap and promising to catch the toddler.
Fire, EMS on police on scene on apartment complex fire - South Ridge Apts. Avoid the area. Updates will follow pic.twitter.com/6eaT9fGXNS— So Brunswick PD (@SoBrunswickPD) March 7, 2022
“You see a child, I think it just, it just cranks up the adrenaline,” John Penney, a police detective sergeant, told CBS News.
The toddler, crying, was dropped from the window by his father and caught by the first responders’ outstretched arms.
“It was emotional,” Sgt. William Merkler said.
“Obviously, the kid was terrified.”
Then they coached the father down.
Eventually, he jumped, but he was angled head-first.
The officers and a bush under the window broke his fall, and he walked away with only minor injuries.
Rescue captured on officers' body worn camera. Dad throws child out 2nd floor window to officers and firefighters, then jumps to escape flames consuming apartment building. pic.twitter.com/Ku5jQ6sOUy— So Brunswick PD (@SoBrunswickPD) March 7, 2022
While everything turned out well for the people involved — the boy suffered only minor injuries also — the scene has stayed with the first responders, and they had nothing but praise for the father’s fast actions.
“The situation was deteriorating quite quickly,” Penney said, according to WLS.
“The smoke was pouring out above him. I can still envision that.”
“To get your wits about you like that?” Perez said.
“I’m sure he was asleep.
"To wake up to something like that, it was a good job by him, definitely save his child.”
The boy and his mother were spotted after the fire, and while she wouldn’t speak about the ordeal, the boy was clutching a teddy bear and seemed to be doing well.
The fire ultimately was contained, but not before displacing about 40 people, according to information from the Red Cross obtained by WPIX-TV.
“This is what we signed up for,” officer Ryan Bartunek said.
“This is the exciting part of the job that, you know, you want to be able to help people and do the right thing.”
The cause of the fire was still under investigation.