Jill Harper was on her way home from work on April 15, her Sunday afternoon drive uneventful until she saw something that made her immediately stop her car. Her vigilance may have saved a life, or at least serious injury.
In Sandusky, Ohio, Jill Harper spotted a baby hanging from a porch gutter on the side of a house.
Harper saw the 18-month-old baby dangling from the gutter of the porch of a home on Mills Street. In a panic, she pulled her car over and raced across the yard.
“I just pulled my car up and stopped and jumped out and ran up there,” Harper told FOX 8. “I could only touch his foot so I started banging on the house hoping that somebody would come outside and help me.”
While Harper was trying to get the attention of someone in the house, the toddler released its grip on the gutter ledge and began to free fall towards the concrete steps leading up to the house.
“When I started pounding on the house, that’s when he fell, and my hand was pounding,” Harper told News 5. “So when he fell, he kind of came back and hit my arm, and then I caught him.”
“When I caught him I remember thinking, oh my God, I caught him,” Harper said.
“We both kind of went down and I thought he was going to hit his head on the concrete steps,” she told Cleveland 19. “He came up and he kind of grabbed me and I just grabbed him and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I caught him.'”
Fortunately the toddler was unharmed. Emergency services were called by a neighbor, according to WYKC 3 News.
The toddler’s guardian, Kelsie Hellman, was in the bathroom when the boy escaped. She was shocked when Harper told her what happened.
“I knew she was panicked and it obviously was an accident; she did not realize he’d crawled out there,” Harper told WKYC 3 News.
“Children, they will surprise you at any time. You turn your head for just a second thinking they’re going to be OK,” Sgt. Kevin Youskievicz told FOX 8.
“They will disappear quickly because they’re adventuresome, they want to find out and that’s exactly what I think happened here.”
Hellman is the boy’s mother’s cousin, and has been looking after the little one since he was 3 months old.
She told police the boy went around the baby gate at the bottom of her stairs while she was in the bathroom. From there he slid through an open window which opens onto the roof. The couple are fixing the windows so it can’t happen again.
No charges were expected to result from the incident, but the court decided to take the child into protective custody.
“Summit County Children Services confirms that the child, via court order, was removed from the caregiver’s home today and placed in an alternative setting,” a Summit County Children Services spokesperson said in a statement obtained by Cleveland 19.
“Summit County Children Services continues to assess what’s in the best interest of this child. With a court order, all parties will have an opportunity to discuss what’s in the best interest of this child next week.
“We all want what’s in the best interest of the child.”
Harper is glad she was in the right place, at the right time.
“It was the craziest thing that ever happened in my life,” Harper said.
The Ohioan claimed she hadn’t done anything special, and anyone driving by would have done the same. However, Sgt. Youskievicz disagrees.
“I can only describe her as a hero, she’s a hero,” he said. “Everyone says we need heroes, she is one.”