“We had a full apartment that night—we were hosting my niece, my niece’s mother, and a friend. I smelled the smoke first, and when I opened my eyes, I could see it rising through the floor. I screamed to my wife, ‘Oh my God! Grab the baby!’ When I’m not wearing my prostheses, I keep them in the bedroom closet—otherwise my son will try and play with them—but because I don’t want to have to hop around if I need to get up quickly, I keep my leg next to the bed at night. So I put my leg on, and pushed everyone out to our small balcony.
“When I saw our first-floor neighbor run out the building, I yelled to him, ‘Come catch my baby!’ He was stationed right underneath me, which is about a 30-foot drop, and I dropped my son right into my neighbor’s hands. I then cradled my niece with my left arm and right stump, and dropped her, too, butI took a moment—she’s a newborn and delicate.
“My wife hung from the balcony and swung to a first-floor windowsill before dropping to the ground, but the other two women were too hysterical, so I pushed them to the edge of the balcony and told them to wait for the firemen. I stepped over the railing, looked down, and thought, ‘This is going to hurt.’ I landed on my good leg and fractured my tibia. Afterwards, in the hospital, my niece’s father came to visit. He started crying when he saw me, and said, ‘Thank you for saving my baby.’ I just said, ‘No, no, thank God.’ ” —Fidel Morales, as told to Matthew Giles