After the fire: ‘I feel like he was God sent’
Lafayette family waits to meet, thank man who spotted a house fire, saved 6-year-old by leaping from second-floor window
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By Tuesday night, as he was sorting through “the crazy stupid” outpouring of help from the community after a fire gutted his family’s home early Monday morning, David Barrett was still waiting to meet Nick Bostic face-to-face.
Barrett didn’t hesitate, sight unseen, to point to Bostic, a 25-year-old Lafayette man recovering in an Indianapolis hospital, as a hero. Bostic was being credited for running into the burning home, helping to roust sleeping children and then going back in, finding Barrett’s 6-year-old, Kaylani, and rescuing her by jumping from a second-floor window as firefighters were arriving to the house in the 2200 block of Union Street.
“Whatever brought him there at that moment,” Barrett said, “I feel like he was God sent. He saved something that was priceless.”
Brian Alkire, an assistant chief with Lafayette Fire Department, said he was waiting to speak with Bostic, too, about the rescue at a fire first reported around 12:30 a.m. Monday. For now, Alkire said he was considering the fire accidental, though the investigation was ongoing Tuesday.
But as of Tuesday, funds were being set up to raise money for Bostic’s hospital care, which included a transfer to Eskanazi Hospital in Indianapolis to treat him for smoke inhalation and an injured arm.
Family members said Bostic wasn’t able to take calls Tuesday evening.
According to accounts, Bostic was driving by the home on Union Street and noticed a fire near the front of the house. He ran inside, where five people were.
Barrett, assistant principal at Tecumseh Junior High School, said he and his wife, Tiera, had left less than a half-hour earlier. He said they got a call from their daughter, Seionna, 18, that the house was on fire.
Livian Knifley, 13, was sleeping over at the house with her friend, Shaylee Barrett. They were in a second-floor bedroom when the fire started.
“We were dead asleep, and all of a sudden there was Seionna yelling at us to get up, and this guy I’d never seen in my life standing over us, screaming that we had to get out,” Knifley said. “They were like, ‘Now!’”
Seionna Barrett gathered her sister Kaleia, 20 months old, and along with Bostic ushered the girls to the front lawn. Knifley said that’s where they realized Kaylani, the Barretts’ 6-year-old daughter, was still inside. She said Bostic told them all to stay put in the yard.
“He said, ‘I’ll get her,’ and ran back inside,” Knifley said. “I don’t know, but it felt like he was in there forever. … I was just bawling.”
Knifley said eventually she heard the sound of breaking glass on the back side of the house. Moments later, she said, Bostic came around the corner carrying Kaylani, handing her to firefighters on the scene.
“I really didn’t think they were going to get out,” Knifley said. “The fire was spreading really fast.”
Barrett said Kaylani told him later that she’d been on the first floor when Bostic found her. Barrett said he’s not sure why Bostic wound up going upstairs, but he did, jumping from the second-floor window with the 6-year-old in his arms.
Kara Lewis, Bostic’s girlfriend, said Bostic told her he’d gone to fill the gas tank on her car that night. She said she found out that he was in the hospital – first at Franciscan Health in Lafayette before being transferred to Indianapolis – when police came to her home near downtown.
“An officer told me what Nick had done,” Lewis said. “‘He just saved a couple of lives in a house fire’ – that’s what she said.”
Lewis said Bostic had to be intubated after the fire. But later she said he was still trying to process what had happened.
“He told me he’s shocked that police called him a hero,” Lewis said. “He can’t believe that. He’s just an average guy, that’s what he always says. He’s just shocked about everything.”
Valerie Holdman, Livian Knifley’s aunt, started a Facebook-based fundraiser after finding out that Bostic had been taken to the hospital in Indianapolis. She said she reached to Lewis to help set it up so the funds would go directly to Bostic to help with hospital bills.
As of Tuesday night, the Facebook fundraiser had more than $7,300 of a $50,000 goal. A second GoFundMe account, started by Bostic’s cousin Richard Stair, rolled out Tuesday.
“I didn’t know how to set that amount,” Holdman said. “If I had a million dollars, I’d give it to him. If he hadn’t been there, I don’t even want to think about what would have happened. … If he’d driven past and called 911 and waited, like most people think to do, those kids would have died. How do you put a price on what he did?”
Barrett said he and his family were still trying to process things, too.
He said friends and the school community had found them places to stay and, in a matter of a couple of days, had helped replace clothes, computers and electronics for school and were on call to help with other needs. Barrett said he took it as a sign that one of the few things in the home’s living room that survived the fire was a decorative wooden plaque that said, “Love.”
“How the community has stepped up, I keep saying it’s surreal, because it just is,” Barrett said. “It’s crazy stupid how much everyone is showing all this love.”
Next up would be meeting Bostic.
“There’s not words I can express,” Barrett said. “He saved my baby.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here’s a link to a Facebook campaign to help with Bostic’s medical bills.
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