A retired US marine has been branded a hero after catching a three-year-old boy as he was dropped from a burning building.
Phillip Blanks was visiting a friend when he heard a commotion outside the apartment building in Arizona and went to check out the noise. He found a neighbour’s apartment on fire and saw desperate mum Rachel Long on fire with her son Jamison in her arms.
She dropped the boy over the edge and miraculously Philip, who played American football in college, caught the boy in his arm. Dramatic footage captured Jamison plummeting to the ground before Philip swoops in and catches him before they both drop to the floor from the power of the fall.
Before the boy is let go, people can be heard shouting: “Throw the baby down”. And once he is safe they can be heard telling Rachel: “Jump lady, come on!”
Eyewitnesses say the woman was on fire, but instead of trying to save herself, she headed back into the flat to find her eight-year-old daughter.
The 28-year-old former soldier told ABC7 in the US: “He was twirling in the air like a propeller,” he told WABC on Wednesday.
“I just did my best. His head landed perfectly on my elbow. His ankle got twisted up as I was diving.
“The guy who was there with me – it looked like he wasn’t going to catch him. So that’s why I stepped in. I just wanted to make a better catch.”
Firefighters rushed to the apartment but found the 30-year-old mother dead. Jamison survived the fall and was taken to hospital.
His older sister Roxanne has already had eight surgeries, following their fire and both children remain hospitalised.
Speaking of Rachel, Philip said: “She’s the real hero of the story because she made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the children and their father Corey who are now homeless and facing huge hospital bills.Photo Credit: Getty