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Hailed a hero in fire rescue, Nick Bostic tells his story
25-year-old Lafayette man slammed on brakes when he saw a house fire early Monday, saved 6-year-old with leap from second-floor window
It wasn’t until Lafayette police showed him body cam footage – the one where he scrambles toward an officer, handing off 6-year-old Kaylani Barrett, before collapsing on a Union Street curb as fire consumes a house behind them early Monday morning – that Nick Bostic realized how the daring rescue played out in a scene that had the city hailing him as a hero.
Out of the hospital, home in an apartment he and his girlfriend, Kara Lewis, moved into near downtown Lafayette in the past few weeks, Bostic said he remembered in sharp detail everything that night up until the moment he landed on his right side, bracing the girl he’d cradled in a jump from a two-story window.
He’d already told himself several times, as he searched under beds, in closets and, eventually in what he called a “lagoon of smoke” for a 6-year-old girl who couldn’t get out of the burning house, that this was how he was going to die – having stopped his car when he saw the fire in the 2200 block of Union Street.
“That’s where I thought they found me, like I’d just had enough,” Bostic said, flexing fingers covered with stitches Thursday afternoon. “I thought my last bit of energy was right there, where I landed. But I guess I had a little bit of an extra, I don’t know, extra backup – like a backup for the backup – for one last push.”
“It’s unreal,” Bostic said. “Sitting here telling you about it, it’s just unreal to me. It’s God, man. That’s all I can think of.”
Released Wednesday from Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, where he had to be on a ventilator to treat him for smoke inhalation, Bostic spent parts of Thursday shaking the hand of Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski at city hall and retelling the details from that night. Police issued releases that touted “heroic actions” and designated some proceeds from an upcoming National Night Out event at a Lafayette Aviators game for his bills.
All before he’d had a chance to meet with the family of David and Tiera Barrett, who lost their home that night. (“They reached out already,” Bostic said. “But they have a lot of other things to think about and get straightened out right now.”)
In case you missed it, here’s an initial account: ‘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
“Like I keep saying, it’s not like I’m some superstar hero,” Bostic, a 25-year-old who works in a pizza restaurant, said. “I was at the right place, the right time, and, I guess, the right person.”
Here’s Bostic’s account of what put him in the right place at the right time.
Bostic said he was driving west on Union Street, after filling the car’s tank with gas, when he saw what looked like a small fire – “the size of a campfire,” he said – out front of the two-story house. (Lafayette police reported that when they arrived shortly after 12:30 a.m., the house was fully engulfed.)
Bostic said he slammed on the brakes and put the car in reverse to get a better look. He said he didn’t have his phone, so he tried to wave down another passing driver, without any luck.
“Pretty much after they didn’t stop, I just thought I needed to focus on seeing if anyone was in there,” Bostic said.
He said he hollered and eventually went inside. He said there was no smoke and lights were on in the house, which looked like it already had been evacuated. He said he hollered some more and was halfway up the stairs to the second floor when he saw four people coming down.
Based on previous accounts of the family and a friend staying the night, the Barretts had left about a half-hour earlier and their 18-year-old daughter had rousted the other children in the home to get them out when they realized the house was on fire.
Bostic said he turned to leave with them at that point, heading out a back door and away from the house. He said he asked if anyone else was inside. There was. Bostic said he told everyone to wait there while he went inside to check.
Bostic said he immediately went to the second floor, “because I never really got to start looking up there.”
He said he went room to room, checking under beds, around desks, behind doors and in closets.
“Anywhere I could think,” Bostic said. “I mean, I was high-tailing it, 110%. It started to get hard to see, because the smoke was getting bad. … I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like I accepted I was going to probably die, right there, that night. But it was a weird calm. You just got to work as fast as you can.”
Bostic said he doesn’t know how long he’d been looking – “Maybe it was seconds, but it felt like forever,” he said – when he heard what sounded like crying coming from the first floor. He said that by the time he got downstairs, he couldn’t see where the sound was coming from, so he pulled his shirt up around his mouth, closed his eyes and just started reaching into the grey-black smoke.
“Until I reached her,” he said.
He said he picked up Kaylani and put her against his shoulder. He said he looked to get out through the front or back door, but he couldn’t see them, anymore, through the smoke. He said he looked upstairs and saw a bit of light. He remembered seeing a window in a second-floor bedroom on the east side of the house and figured that might be the only way out.
With Kaylani in his left arm, Bostic punched the glass in the window, only to have his hand bounce back. He punched it again, breaking the pane. He said he struggled to get the blinds out of the way. The cord on the blinds tangled around the 6-year-old’s leg, slowing them for a few more seconds. Bostic said Kaylani was scared but was calm, considering what was happening.
Bostic said he couldn’t see how far the drop was.
“But it wasn’t like we had any choice then,” Bostic said.
He jumped, landing on his right side, injuring his arm, backside and ankle. He said he did what he could to absorb the impact for the girl. (Police said in a release Thursday she “was miraculously mostly uninjured.”)
Police footage from that night shows Bostic bringing the girl to an officer at 12:36 a.m. and then asking for oxygen. Police moved him across Union Street and applied a tourniquet to his arm, which was bleeding badly, before taking him to Franciscan Health Hospital in Lafayette and then transferring him to Eskenazi in Indianapolis.
On Thursday, the city announced plans to honor Bostic at an Aug. 2 Lafayette Aviators game against the Chillicothe Paints. That night, already designated as National Night Out with Lafayette police, $4 from tickets purchased with the code FUND2022 will go to a GoFundMe account to help pay his bills. Here’s a link for tickets to the game.
“That’s pretty amazing,” Bostic said.
For Bostic, he was most interested in healing faster than doctors predicted so he could get back to work. He said bills were piling up on the small apartment near downtown and that he’d gone to a food pantry that afternoon.
“Everyone says, hero-this or hero-that,” Bostic said. “I don’t know about that. I was just a guy.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: As of Thursday night, a Facebook fundraiser for Bostic had more than $14,600 toward of a $50,000 goal. A second GoFundMe account, started by Bostic’s cousin Richard Stair, had a bit more than $1,100 by Thursday.
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