Thick, black smoke was rippling through a Missouri apartment building, filling the hallways and keeping a neighbor from running inside to help, according to local media reports.
But that didn’t stop the good Samaritan from finding another way to rescue a mother, her 3-year-old daughter and others stuck inside.
“I just came out the building we started yelling and next thing you know, second-floor window opened,” 30-year-old Arnez Merriweather told KSDK. “We ran around the back, everybody was trying to get out. One lady dropped her baby, and I caught her baby. Then she jumped out and I caught her. And her mom jumped out and I caught her, and we both fell.”
And he didn’t stop there, KSDK reported, even as the fire at Hillvale Apartments in St. Louis continued to burn.
After helping the mom and daughter from the window, he told KTVI that he and others found maintenance ladders to rescue others trying to escape the St. Louis apartment complex fire.
Five people were rescued from the building before firefighters arrived at the scene, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“We were jumping and the neighbors were just catching us,” Karen Williams told the Post-Dispatch. “God is good.”
The newspaper captured toddler Tayliah Williams and her mom, Latisha Williams, in a snug embrace following their rescue from the second floor. They were taken to a hospital with “minor injuries,” along with one other.
“It’s just really heartening to see in a time where folks are really concerned about clicks, likes, and follows, that instead of capturing footage, this young man actually went into action to help his neighbors,” St. Louis Fire Capt. Garon Mosby told KTVI.
Merriweather told KTVI that being a jogger and mediator allowed him to remain calm during the crisis.
“I’m just glad everybody is okay,” he said. “The clothes and material stuff you can replace.”
The fire originated in a vacant unit, the Post-Dispatch reports, and is under investigation.