Retired U.S. Marine Seen Catching 3-Year-Old Tossed From Burning Apartment Building In Phoenix
Phillip Blanks caught a 3-year-old boy who was falling from an apartment balcony.
July 08, 2020 at 8:20 pm
A retired U.S. Marine and former student-athlete made the catch of his life after saving a young boy who was thrown from a burning apartment in Phoenix, Arizona, according to ABC7.
Phillip Blanks, a 28-year-old former football player, was seen on video making the daring rescue on July 3.
ABC15 reported that a three-story apartment building caught fire Friday morning and that 30-year-old Rachel Long lost her life in the deadly blaze. But her two children, an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old, managed to make it out safely.
Thanks to Blanks, the 3-year-old landed safely after being tossed from the balcony. He was quickly taken to the emergency room along with his sibling and another woman trapped by the fire. It took at least 100 firefighters to put out the blaze.
The local news outlet spoke with Leonard Thompson and Juanita Williams, who made it out of the fire. They both said they woke up when they heard the fire alarm go off and quickly escaped with their 1-year-old.
They lived right below the apartment on fire, and Thompson went back in to help the people who were in the burning unit. When Thompson and another man broke down the door, they found Long on fire and her 8-year-old daughter in the apartment. He grabbed the little girl and ran out, but Long never made it out.
"She threw the second child over the balcony. She was burning, but she just didn't make it out. She was a good mother she did everything. Go to the pool every week, every weekend, doing stuff with their kids," Williams told ABC15.
Blanks is from Kalamazoo, Michigan, but moved to Phoenix about a year ago after spending four years in the military.
In an interview with MLive, he said he was with a friend in another apartment when he heard yelling and decided to jump in and help. That's when he saw Long about to throw her 3-year-old son off of the balcony.
“Ultimately, this is my job. It was all fast, it was a blur. It was tunnel vision as I was running. I didn’t see anything but the baby. I wasn’t able to grab my shoes. I ran down the stairs barefoot. As I was running, I see the baby getting ready to be tossed out of the patio. Next thing you know, he’s helicoptering in the air and I catch him,” Blanks told MLive.
Multiple apartments were destroyed by the fire, and a number of people lost everything they owned.
Blanks was a wide receiver and linebacker at Kalamazoo Central High School for four years and finished one year at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. He moved to Phoenix to work as a personal security guard for executives, MLive reported.
He told MLive that he did not want fame due to the tragic nature of the situation and only hoped that the children were alright after living through such a traumatizing situation.
“I would honestly like to be involved in the kids’ lives, because I know they had a traumatic experience and I know that their lives have changed forever. In this situation, if I could use this platform to get these kids some help, that’d be great. I don’t need any. I don’t want any help or too much recognition for this. I just feel like I was doing my job,” he said.
The video was shared widely once it got to Twitter, and many people thanked Blanks for his quick actions that saved a child's life.