RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A woman and her infant son were forced to jump from a fire early Sunday morning on Long Island.
Flames tore through an apartment in the Colony Park Complex on Peconic Street in Ronkonkoma, leaving an estimated 40 residents in 11 apartments homeless.
They all made it out alive, but it was an extremely close call for a family of three who were in extreme danger and had to take extreme action, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
Neighbor Brook Monsagur, whose apartment also burned, saw the desperate rescue before firefighters arrived.
“The man had to jump over the balcony. Then the lady threw the baby over the balcony, and then she went down after the baby went down,” Monsagur said.
Survival came with that extra exertion for landscaper James Schlick, his wife, Jenna, and their 2-year-old daughter, Julia. He had rushed to the front door to find it burning, so escape from the balcony was the only way.
Too exhausted after the ordeal to go on camera, Schlick spoke to CBS2 by phone from a hotel room.
When asked what was going through his mind when he had to catch his daughter, Schlick said, “You know, I already knew, like, I wasn’t going to drop her at all.
“I’m holding the baby. I just caught her. My wife, I’m like ‘help my wife, help my wife down.’ They were nice guys, nice neighbors that you know helped us out and they helped my wife get down, too,” Schlick added. “But we got out, so that’s all that matters.”
Neighbors were floored by the family’s actions.
“I can’t even imagine having to do something like that, having to throw your child off to the side and then jump yourself,” Steven Grieco said.
“Thank God they were able to do that,” echoed neighbor Tina Donegan.
Donegan and her 17-year-old son, Liam, escaped just in time. They were back later Sunday to see the apartments boarded up.
The Red Cross is helping displaced tenants and neighbors are coming together with gift cards and other forms of support, CBS2’s Carlin reported.
Fire investigators said it could be days before an official cause is released.