Ex-player catches fire baby dropped 'like ball'


(Rin Simpson, Western Mail -

Dec 12 2005)




A FORMER rugby player was hailed a hero after he caught a baby thrown from the window of a burning home.


Mike Webber imagined he was catching a ball when young mum Katie Rogers was forced to drop her nine-month-old son down to him from a first floor window as smoke filled the house.


He said, "I played rugby for years and just imagined it was a rugby ball coming out of the mist on a dewy afternoon."


Mr. Webber was the first on the scene at the fire, which started in the living room of Miss Rogers's home in Barrack Hill, Newport, early on Friday, possibly because of faulty Christmas tree lights. He had gone out for a morning paper when he heard screams from a neighbour's house.


"I could see smoke billowing into the air and it didn't take a brain surgeon to work out that something wasn't quite right, so I ran and when I got there the lady was dangling the baby out the window and screaming for help."


Miss Rogers, 19, said she was reluctant to drop her son Brandon. "I didn't want to throw him but the smoke was so thick and he was coughing and spluttering.


"In the end I had to let him go and Mike caught him," she said.


The 38-year-old former Newport Saracens player had to persuade the reluctant mum to make the dangerous decision, but he was more than confident that he would be able to catch the child.


He said, "I ran over and told her to drop the baby down. She refused at first but I said 'I guarantee you I will catch him', and down he went. I played rugby for years and just imagined it was a ball coming out of the mist on a dewy afternoon. I had no qualms at all about catching him. I've been a rugby player for over 20 years. But of all the catches I've made, I would swap them all for that one."


The 19-stone ex-prop forward then shoulder-charged the door, worried about any others inside.


Mr. Webber's wife Lorraine, 40, who was also at the scene, said, "It was quite scary, to be honest, because there were ambulances up here and the fire brigade.


"Mike said he only did what anybody else would do in the situation, but I'm very proud of him. He was first on the scene and because of his strength he could get through the door and was able to help. It's lucky Mike has a safe pair of hands after playing rugby for so many years."


Mike added, "I'm a bit embarrassed about the fuss, to be honest. It could have been anyone. I'm just happy that the children are ok, that's the main thing."


Miss Rogers and Brandon were treated for smoke inhalation, along with her son Ashley, two, her mother Lesley, 45, and sister Rachel, 17. The fire is being investigated.

Would it be churlish for me to suggest that if Mike Webber had been a backline player instead of a forward he'd have probably dropped little Brandon? - Wes

And then, weirdly, a few days later and an ocean away, we get...

Mom Trapped by Fire Tosses Baby From Window

Yahoo! News, Thu Dec 15, 9:07 AM ET

A mother trapped in a burning third-floor apartment prayed and then dropped her 1-month-old son out a window to the crowd below. The infant was caught safely by a man who plays catcher for his employer's baseball team.

The rescuer gave the baby mouth-to-mouth resuscitation a skill he picked up two decades ago as a teenage lifeguard and the mother was rescued by firefighters. Both were treated at a hopsital and released.

Tracinda Foxe, 30, was cornered by smoke and flames in the Bronx apartment on Wednesday when she went to the window with son Eric Guzman.

"I said, 'God, please save my son,'" Foxe told the Daily News in Thursday editions. "I prayed that someone would catch him and save his life."

Felix Vazquez, 39, a Housing Authority supervisor, opened his arms and snared the baby.

"I didn't think," said Vazquez, a father of three. "I just reacted."

Moments later, firefighters D.J. Martin and Bobby Eustace burst into the burning apartment, found a hysterical Foxe and gave her an oxygen mask.

I guess the logical procession of this is that a baby will be dropped from the window of a burning apartment in Brazil and bounced off the foot of a soccer player - who then kicks the kid down the street and yells "Goal!" (With a riot breaking out among the onlookers.) - Wes



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