It was the day before Thanksgiving, and 21-year-old Byron Campbell could scarcely believe what was happening as he saw smoke pour out of the third-story windows of an apartment complex.
Campbell was not a resident of the Dallas building, but he stopped his car and ran toward the fire, banging on doors to urge people outside.
As flames threatened to take everyone down, strangers became a unified rescue team, working together to try and evacuate as many people as possible.
Campbell heard the cry of a baby and looked up to see 27-year-old Shuntara Thomas desperately trying to save her 1-year-old daughter’s life.
“The young mother was holding her baby and yelling, ‘Can somebody catch my baby?'” Campbell told Dallas News. “I just said, ‘Trust me, I’ll catch her!'”
@DallasFireRes_q has extinguished the fire on Ferguson Rd, but the real heroes did their work before hand, as civilians and @DallasPD worked together to get residents to safety. 6 people, including a baby, jumped from the 3rd floor while they held mattresses on the ground. pic.twitter.com/gBW42MfuRA
— DALLAS FIRE-RESCUE (@DallasFireRes_q) November 21, 2018
Thomas took a brave leap of faith and dropped her coughing, crying baby girl down three stories into the arms of a stranger.
“I didn’t want my daughter to lose her life,” Thomas later told KXAS. “He told me: ‘Just trust me. I got her, I got her.’ So without even thinking, I just dropped her.”
Campbell recalled his intense focus on catching the baby. “My first reaction was, ‘Don’t let this baby hit the ground,’” he said.
Campbell safely caught the baby, Kirsten, in his arms. He said he quickly handed the baby to a woman who was standing nearby and continued his rescue efforts.
Second-floor resident Charlie Wilson witnessed the moment Thomas dropped her baby into Campbell’s arms.
WARNING: The following video contains vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive.
“It was just horrific, but at those moments you just have to have some kind of trust in this world,” Wilson told Dallas News. “You have to believe in human kindness.”
Thomas later told KDFW how thankful she was for Campbell’s help.
“I do thank him because without him my child’s life would not have been saved,” she said. “As long as I got my family, I’m good.”
“So I may not have anything else, but it teaches me not to be thankful for the material things but to be thankful for everything that I do have.”
Thomas and her daughter were treated at a local hospital for non-threatening injuries.
The American Red Cross is assisting the 40 people who have suddenly found themselves homeless, working to provide shelter and basic necessities during this difficult time.
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