A bus driver Stephen St. Bernard, saved a girl from a three-storey fall on Coney Island. Kayle McCree, 7, crawled out of her room, danced on top of an air conditioning unit, then tripped and fell, but St. Bernard caught her in his outstretched arms.
The New York Daily News reports St. Bernard said: "I just prayed that I’d catch her. I was right underneath her."
According to witnesses, McCree, an autistic girl, pushed aside an accordion closure holding the air conditioning unit in her apartment, and crawled out through the space. People watched the girl in astonishment as she sang and danced on the air conditioning unit three-stories high.
St. Bernard, who just returned from work, heard the noise of the crowd and rushed to see what was happening. He says: "There were all these kids yelling,'the little girl, the little girl.' I saw a little girl standing on the air conditioner. I said, 'Let me get over to her in time,' and I made it just in time."
He took up position beneath the girl, trying to judge the right position in case she fell.
The NY Daily News reports St. Bernard says, "I went over there to make sure if she fell I could catch her." He adds: "I’m not a hero — anybody would have done it. I did it out of normal instincts."
He tried to persuade the girl to go back into her apartment, but suddenly, she fell. The crowd below screamed just before St. Bernard caught her in his arms.
The 52-year-old bus driver, who has a daughter about the girl's age, said: "I think about my daughter, and you know, she's a little kid."
He was knocked to the ground when he caught the girl. NBC 4 New York reports that the force of the girl landing on his arms caused him to stumble slightly forward to the ground with the girl firmly in his grasp. According to CBS News, the incident happened around 2 p.m.
St. Bernard told NBC 4 New York: "I picked her up and carried her, and I was holding her, rubbing her, and she just more or less kept looking around. She never closed her eyes, she didn't lose consciousness."
His seven-year-old daughter agrees that her father is a hero. Tahaani St.Bernard said: "The child was like almost like my age, so like he always carries me, so I guess he'd probably be able to catch her."
A witness, Jesse Padilla, 9, said: “Her head hit a bush, but Steve caught the rest of her body.”
A neighbor, Latasha Marcus, told CBS: "I ran inside and called 911, but by the time I hung up she had fell.The girl fell right into his arms."
CBS reports another witness Jeremiah Fernandez, 12, said: “I was kind of a little scared, I never seen anything like that up close before."
The NY Post reports the girl's mother Saleema McCree, said: "She’s fine. Not a scratch on her. The man caught her, thank God. It’s a miracle."
St. Bernard and the girl were taken to Coney Island Hospital. He was treated for a torn tendon on his left bicep, the Daily Mail reports.
Neighbors are full of praises for St. Bernard. Jessica Aleman, said: “He has a heart, a very good heart — kids, adults, anybody — he would do anything for anybody."
The NYPD and the Housing Department say they are investigating the incident. New York City law requires that all apartments that have young children must have a window guard installed except where there is an air conditioning unit placed over the window securely. The regulations require that the barrier must not leave an opening greater than four-and-half inches in homes with children under 10.
The Daily Mail reports that Mrs McCree said she had just bought the air conditioner and installed it on Sunday. She said she had just put kayla to bed and was taking care of the other children when the incident happened. She said: "I heard somebody banging on the door, stating that my daughter was outside on the air conditioner, but I had no idea what was going on because I had my son."
Mrs. McCree said the air conditioner's accordion panels were supposed to be secure. She said, "They sold me a defective air conditioner."
Authorities have said no charges will be brought against the mother