Hero catches falling tots

Published: February 25, 2006 | 3624th good news item since 2003

One after another, the terrified children kept falling feet-first from the burning building – and an ex-Marine standing below caught them all in his sure hands.

“The first thing on my mind was saving those children,” the caring veteran, Louis Reynoso, 35, said yesterday. “I see people hanging out their windows getting ready to jump. I told the gentleman, ‘Look, throw them down to me!'”

Just minutes earlier, Reynoso had been sleeping by a television in his first-floor apartment when screams and the smell of smoke woke him at 5:20 a.m.

Fighting through the choking smoke, he guided his wife and son safely out of the Prospect Heights building and then swung into action.

Reynoso, who served five years in the Marines, got some fire rescue training on duty. That experience helped prepare him when Marquis Jones, 23, opened a window and tossed out his 5-month old son, 10-year-old brother and his girlfriend’s sons, 6 and 9, and a daughter, also 9.

“You don’t know what angle they are coming in at,” Reynoso said. “But I’ve caught other people before in the Marine Corps.”

Reynoso grabbed each child, one by one, and then passed them to a neighbor after they fell 20 feet.

When Jones saw that his family was safe on the sidewalk, he dropped his girlfriend, Monique Chenhue, 29, out the window and then leaped to the ground.

“I could have lost both my sons and grandchildren. I don’t know what to say or how to thank him,” said Jones’ mother, Theresa Holland, 45. “Thank God my babies are alive.”

Cradling his 5-month-old son, Jones said he never doubted whether Reynoso would come through.

“I knew the dude was going to catch them,” he said.

Published in Heroes, Kids & Teens
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