It was a Thanksgiving residents of a Northeast Dallas community will not soon forget – particularly those who lived in an apartment building that caught fire this past Wednesday, leaving 40 people without a home a day before Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, thanks to the quick thinking of good samaritans and emergency personnel, there were no fatalities. One of those good samaritans was a young man named Byron Campbell, who, along with others, helped those trapped in the building jump to safety.
One family, in particular, is especially thankful for Byron’s quick thinking. Shuntara Thomas, her husband Patrick and one-year-old daughter lived on the third floor of the building and were still unaware of the danger they were in when the hallways began to fill with smoke.
It didn’t take long before the hallways were engulfed in flames. Patrick broke their bedroom window and the family looked down to find Byron standing there with his arms out, ready to catch the baby.
“I just told the mom I wouldn’t drop the baby,” he said. “Then she let go and I caught it. I held on like a football and didn’t let go.”
Byron later said it was pure instinct that caused him to reach out and convince Shuntara to drop the baby.
“She trusted me and she dropped the baby and I caught the baby,” he recalled.
An emotional Shuntara remembered feeling terrified, not knowing if this was going to be the last time she would hold her child. Fortunately, Byron’s instincts were spot on, and the little girl was safe.
Not only was she safe, but all residents in the building were also able to escape thanks to the help of neighbours like Byron. In fact, five other people also had to jump out third-floor windows to escape the blaze. To ensure their safety, folks on the ground worked with police officers to pile up mattresses to cushion their fall, standing beneath to support each person as they jumped.
Mike Mata, a sergeant with Dallas Police said that there is little doubt in his mind that without the help from young men like Byron, the catastrophic fire would have led to multiple causalities.
“They worked alongside our officers and they’re heroes,” he said. “They stepped up and they saved lives.”
Although there were no casualties, four people suffered injuries, including Patrick Thomas who required 22 stitches to his hand.