Dramatic footage captured former college football player Phillip Blanks sprinting to catch a three-year-old child who was thrown from a burning third-floor apartment balcony in Phoenix, Arizona, on July 3.
The child’s 30-year-old mother, Rachel Long, did not survive the fire. Her children, an 8-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy, were rushed to the hospital with burns but are expected to survive, according to local reports.
Blanks, 28, a former US Marine and wide receiver for Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, told ABC7 that the boy “was twirling in the air like a propeller. I just did my best. His head landed perfectly on my elbow. His ankle got twisted up as I was diving.”
Blanks added that he thought Long, who was already covered in flames when she flung her son over the balcony, was the “real hero of the story … she made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children,” he told ABC7.
The fire broke out on the third floor at 9 am, according to reports. Multiple residents were evacuated from the building before the fire department arrived. Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Captain Kenny Overton reported no firefighters were injured, and an adult victim was taken to the hospital with a leg injury. Credit: Albert Bell III via Storyful