A 2-year-old fell off a three-story downtown Medford building into the arms of a 21-year-old neighbor who may have saved the boy's life.
"I said: `It's OK, baby; if you fall, I will catch you,' " Kristen Beach recounted.
The infant, whom she called "Freddy," was unscathed as Beach held fast to his torso during the fall, her knees giving way under his weight Sunday morning.
"I still can't believe that happened."
Beach, who has a 2-year-old of her own, was standing outside her apartment building on Main Street talking to her mother when she heard screams from across the street just after 10 a.m.
"He was crying when he was up there," she said. "I could see the tears and the snot running down his face."
Medford police Sgt. D.J. Graham said the boy was hanging onto a small lip around the edge of the roof of the former Fluhrer's Bread building, across from Alba Park at 25 N. Holly Street.
Graham said a single-family residential unit is located inside the building, where the boy's family lives.
The mother, 22-year-old Amelia Marion Elizabeth Smith, was arrested and charged with two counts of child neglect, two charges of endangering a minor and two charges of endangering. She posted bail Sunday night and was released.
Graham said the baby was examined by medical personnel and didn't appear to have suffered any injuries.
He said Medford police and fire officials at the scene couldn't believe that Beach had the presence of mind to actually catch the baby.
"It's amazing," said Graham. "The baby was really calm when we arrived on the scene."
Beach said she was in a bit of a daze when police and fire personnel arrived.
"Everybody kept patting me on the shoulders and saying, `You're my hero,' " she said.
The only thing that was damaged in the incident was Beach's phone, which cracked as it slipped off her shoulder as she was trying to call for help while holding the baby.
When the boy's mother came out of the building after police arrived, she was very grateful, Beach said.
"She just hugged me and said `thank you, thank you,' " Beach said.
Beach said she was worried that if something bad happened to the youngster during the fall, she could be held responsible.
She knew the boy didn't have the strength to pull himself back up onto the roof because she spent about two minutes talking to him while he just hung there.
"I was completely ready," she said. "But I was terrified."
After she told him she would catch him, the boy let go.
She said he has cute blond hair and was wearing the same red shirt with stripes that Cole, her own 2-year-old son, wears.
"I asked if he was hurt, `Do you have owies?' " she said. "I was crying right along with him."
When he said he wasn't hurt, the boy became steadily calmer, Beach remembers.
"I told him he was being very brave," she said. Beach's mom, Cathy Blake, 50, said she was sitting in her car next to the Medford Hotel when she saw the boy dangling from the roof.
"My daughter ran over very quickly," the Gold Hill resident said. "I got on the phone and called 911."
Her daughter stood next to the building crying out frantically for help to the boy's mother or any other family member, but nobody responded, Blake said.
"After one or two minutes, the boy let go," Blake said. "She caught him, and the only thing I saw was his little feet hit the ground. She just scooped him up into her arms."
A passer-by lent assistance, and soon Medford police showed up along with an ambulance, Blake said.
"She was so brave to run over there and stand there and wait for the little boy to drop," she said. "She was just at the right place at the right time."
Blake said she still can't believe how long the little boy clung to the roof before falling.
Shortly after emergency service providers arrived, the father drove up and went in the ambulance with the boy to the hospital, Blake said.
"If my baby was in the same predicament, I would hope somebody else would do the same thing," Beach said.
Looking back at the building, she keeps going over the events in her mind, saying that much of it is still a blur.
"And just think, I did it all in my flip-flops," she said.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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