Steven St. Bernard, a New York City bus driver, happened to be in the right place at the right time, and caught a 7-year-old autistic as she plunged towards the ground from three stories up. Now, he is being hailed as a hero.
Steven St. Bernard was on his way to his Staten Island home after a shift when he noticed Keyla McCree, his neighbor's daughter, standing on an air conditioner outside her third-story window. Her mother, Saleema McCree, thought the girl was asleep in her bedroom at around 2 p.m. Monday.
"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," the mom told WCBS-TV.
While someone had come to warn the mom, another onlooker called 911, and St. Bernard positioned himself underneath the window. Meanwhile, the girl danced on the rickety platform, seemingly unaware of the danger below.
"Basically she was dancing and I just- I was just praying that I would get there and that if she [fell] that I would catch her," said St. Bernard. The 52-year-old positioned himself.
Then she fell.
In the video, several witnesses scream, afraid the girl would be seriously injured by the fall. St. Bernard caught her, though, but not without paying the cost.
"She fell and she put her hands out," Jesse Padilla, 9, told the New York Daily News. "Her head hit a bush, but Steve caught the rest of her body." He also hurt himself during the fall, injuring a tendon in his arm from the impact. The pain was well worth it, however.
"I went over there to make sure if she fell I could catch her," St. Bernard, a father of four children, said. "I'm not a hero- anybody would have done it. I did it out of normal instincts."
The 7-year-old was taken to Coney Island Hospital to make sure she was okay. She survived the ordeal with nothing but a few bruises.
The incident started speculation into the housing arrangement Keyla lives in. If NYC housing code were up to standard- windows with air conditioners should only have a 4-and-a-half inch opening- she would not have fallen.
NYCHA is currently looking into the situation, a spokesman told the NY Daily News.