Dad and Toddler Drop From 2nd-Floor Window Into Rescuers’ Arms to Escape Apartment Fire

BY Louise Chambers TIMEMarch 12, 2022 PRINT

A police officer’s body cam has recorded the moment a father dropped his toddler from a second-floor New Jersey apartment window to escape a fire, before jumping from the window himself. First responders caught them both, saving their lives.

On the morning of March 7, a fire of unknown origin broke out in South Ridge Woods Apartment Complex, South Brunswick. Residents had to be evacuated as fast as possible, leaving everything behind. However, a father and his toddler son were left trapped by the blaze.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of South Brunswick Police Department)

In a clip of the panicked rescue recorded by one attending police officer’s body cam, a group of first responders gather under the family’s window with arms outstretched. Items from the home dislodged by the escape attempt fall out of the window, followed by the toddler, who is caught in midair.

Seconds later, the father follows and he lands on the ground, however his fall is supported by his rescuers.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of South Brunswick Police Department)

Sgt. William Merkler, Patrolman First Class Ryan Bartunek, Det. Sgt. John Penney, and Fire Chief Chris Perez were the ones who caught the toddler, and the man then jumped into their arms, reported. The father and his child, a boy of around 15 to 18 months old, were both treated for minor injuries, said Deputy Chief Jim Ryan.

South Brunswick Police Department (SBPD) later shared the nail-biting footage on Twitter, captioned: “Dad throws child out 2nd floor window to officers and firefighters, then jumps to escape flames consuming apartment building.”

(Courtesy of South Brunswick Police Department)

SBPD also posted footage of fire crews extinguishing the flames in real time, as a warning to locals to avoid the area.

The blaze caused huge damage to one apartment building in the South Ridge Woods complex, rendering six apartments uninhabitable. According to an SBPD press release, 20 people, including nine children, lost their homes.

(Courtesy of South Brunswick Police Department)

South Brunswick Mayor Charlie Carley said: “I am so thankful everyone made it out of the apartment building, but many lost everything. I have directed our Social Services Department to take the lead in our relief efforts. They will be providing immediate financial assistance, gift cards, and food.

“Our community consistently rallies to help those in need,” he added, “and we will do it again with our fire victims.”

Besides the collaboration with Social Services and the South Brunswick School District, the Red Cross also attended the site of the fire to provide assistance to displaced families.

“They lost everything,” said Jeanne Wert, director of Social Services; “some of the school-aged children went to class and returned to nothing.” Their greatest need, said Wert, is gift cards to stores such as Walmart, Target, Amazon, Stop & Shop, and ShopRite. The South Brunswick School District is accepting donations on the families’ behalf at all schools.

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Louise Chambers is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.
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