Harrowing footage captured from a helmet camera shows the dramatic moment when a desperate father dropped his young child from the third-floor balcony of a burning apartment building into the waiting arms of a firefighter.
The situation for the family of 12 from DeKalb County, Georgia, was grim. With a 2.5 alarm fire raging in their building early in the morning of Jan. 3, there was no way to escape, except by way of the balcony.
But Lance Ragland proved he was up for the challenge. “I felt warm, then one time it got really hot, that pushed me to go faster,” he told WAGA.
Ragland sent his family members down a ladder first responders had set up, trusting that the firefighters would catch the children as he dropped them down.
“From my end, I’m looking at a checklist, I couldn’t see what everybody else was doing,” Ragland said. “At the bottom, (it’s a) whole other world going on because they’re catching the rush that I’m sending down and I’m not giving no space.”
In the now-viral video that was released earlier this week, Dekalb County Fire Rescue Department Captain Scott Stroup is seen catching one of Ragland’s screaming children. The high-definition video was captured on a fellow firefighter’s helmet camera.
The child landed upside down, and Stroup twisted his knees in the process of making the catch.
Ragland’s efforts were ultimately successful. Though he suffered second-degree burns in the blaze, the rest of his family — including a set of newborn twins — was uninjured.
“Failure is not an option, failure is never an option when it comes to protecting family,” Ragland said, while also emphasizing that he’d gladly be injured in order to keep his family safe. “Anything happens to me, I’m OK, but to y’all, no.”
Stroup, a third-generation firefighter, was not the only first responder to act heroically that morning.
Fire Captain Jackie Peckrul caught a 4-week old who was also dropped from a balcony.
“The original plan was to get up on the balcony with them to assist them on the ladder and have somebody else bring them down. I got about halfway up and I look up and somebody was dropping a baby to me,” Peckrul told Inside Edition.
Peckrul — herself a mom of triplets — was just pleased to be able to help.
“I never ever want to see a mother or a father lose their children so, you want to protect them,” she said.
According to Capt. Eric Jackson, many parents had opted to toss their young children off balconies and let firefighters catch them.
“We were catching babies like a football,” he said, as reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It’s not a common situation, but in this instance, the parents’ efforts to save their children worked.
“We don’t encounter that pretty often,” DeKalb County assistant fire chief Jeff Crump said, according to ABC News. “Quickly they got that ladder up to that third-floor balcony and got them down.”
Twelve people were injured in the fire, which is under investigation, and roughly 50 people were displaced, WSB-TV reported.
As for Ragland’s family, despite escaping relatively unscathed from the fire, they lost everything in the blaze. A GoFundMe has been set up to help them pay for some of their expenses.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.