A young man who saved the lives of five children during a house fire in Indiana last week is being hailed as a hero. Nicholas Bostic, a pizza delivery driver, was driving to the petrol station in the small town of Lafayette when he passed a two-storey home that was in flames.
The US man went to call 911 but realised he had forgotten his mobile phone.
According to the police report, on realising he did not have his phone, he tried to enter through the back door of the house. Shouting through the back door, he screamed to those inside that the home was on fire, but he was met with silence. Rather than leaving the house, afraid people may be trapped inside, he went in.
Recalling the events of the night of 11 July to The Washington Post, Bostic said:
“I shouted, ‘Anybody here? Get out! Get out! Fire!'” He told the newspaper that he was just about to leave the smoke-filled house when a teenager emerged at the top of the stairs, accompanied by a group of younger children.
The child was 18-year-old Seionna Barrett. She was babysitting her three younger siblings along with one of their friends while her parents were out playing darts. Seionna had smelt smoke and had awoken the younger children, and Bostic had arrived at the right moment to guide them through the spreading smoke to the safety of the street outside.
Seionna, her sister Shaylee (13) and Kaleia (1), along with Shaylee’s friend Livian Knifley (13) were safely on the street outside when they informed Bostic that the ‘baby’ was missing. They were talking about their six-year-old sister Kaylani, nicknamed ‘Baby K’ who was still trapped inside the house.
Explaining the situation from its perspective, the police department took to Twitter to pay tribute to the ‘heroic’ and ‘inspiring’ young man.
The police explained that they were called to the house, which was “fully engulfed in flames” at approximately 12:30am.
“At approximately 12:36 am, a male, who had entered the house prior to emergency services arriving, jumped through a window of the second-storey house and landed on the ground with the 6-year-old who had been trapped inside.
“The intensity of the fire prevented emergency personnel from entering the residence”, the statement shared online read. “Information was gathered that a 6-year-old child was possibly still inside the home, and emergency personnel began to hastily attempt to combat the fire to attempt a rescue”.
In response, Bostic darted back into the house. Not knowing where the child was, he went to the last place where he found the other children – the upstairs. After a frantic search of the rooms, even looking under the beds, he couldn’t find the child, and started down the stairs.
He later described looking down the stairwell into a “black lagoon” of smoke, and thought it was impossible to go that way. He then moved to a window to leave the house when he heard the faint sound of a child crying. In a conversation with a police officer a few days later, he detailed an inner dialogue with himself: he knew he was there to get that child out, and despite the fire and smoke downstairs terrifying him, he would not abandon the child.
Speaking to The Washington Post, he said: “I thought, ‘I don’t want to die here’”.
The young man has since explained that he could not see properly in the thick smoke, and as he made his way downstairs to save the lone child, he used his t-shirt to protect his face, as he blindly made his way through the downstairs of the house until he found six-year-old Kaylani. He described the scene before him as being so black that he couldn’t see a thing infront of him, and the immense heat of the fire made it feel like he was walking into an oven.
The 25-year-old had to crawl on the ground, feeling in front of him with his hands, and using the child’s cries to locate her in the pitch blackness. Once he had found her, he tried to remember where the back door was, but couldn’t. He knew his way back to the stairs, however, and ran up the stairs carrying the child, entered a room, smashed a window – before jumping to escape the house with Kaylani in tow, ensuring he did not land on the side where he was holding the child. Picking himself up off the ground, he carried the girl to safety.
A video viewed millions of times, posted by the Lafayette Police Department, captures the frantic scene of the blazing fire:
Here’s the video to go along with the story. pic.twitter.com/TvZ5wzCg1f
— LafayetteINPolice (@LafayetteINPD) July 15, 2022
The local police department also confirmed that Bostic suffered ‘serious’ injuries in his act of sacrifice.
“The male, later identified as 25-year-old Nicholas Bostic of Lafayette, was seriously injured during the incident – suffering from severe smoke inhalation and gravely cutting his right arm.”
“The six-year-old child,” the report added, “was miraculously mostly uninjured”.
Bostic’s injuries meant he was flown to Indianapolis for treatment, and it is believed he is making a good recovery.
The police department paid tribute and have encouraged people to donate to a GoFundMe set up for the local hero.
“Nicholas Bostic’s heroic actions saved lives. His selflessness during this incident is inspiring, and he has impressed many with his courage, tenacity and steadfast calmness in the face of such perilous danger”.
Bostic will be honoured on 2 August, and the Lafayette Police Department, Fire Department, and Mayor have said they are “eternally grateful” for the intervention of the young man.