A grateful mother thanked the hero bus driver who caught her 7-year-old daughter in a terrifying three-story plunge from a Brooklyn building Monday.
"Thank you so much," Shaleema McCree said to Stephen St. Bernard as she embraced him in her Coney Island apartment building Tuesday.
St. Bernard still had his arm in a sling from the torn tendon he sustained in the shoulder when he caught the young girl. But he was in good spirits as he spoke of meeting little Keyla McCree and her parents Tuesday.
"She just smiled," said St. Bernard. "Her mother said 'Thank you,' and her father thanked me."
St. Bernard, an MTA bus driver of 10 years, was returning home from his job at about 2 p.m. Monday when he heard screams coming from a building courtyard.
He rushed toward the commotion and saw a girl teetering on top of a third-floor window air conditioning unit. He immediately ran underneath the window.
"It's like she floated off the edge, and it looks like she just -- looked down and saw me and said, 'I'm coming,'" he said Tuesday.
St. Bernard caught her in his arms and wrapped her in his MTA uniform shirt as he waited for paramedics to arrive. She was taken to Coney Island Hospital with very minor injuries.
Police sources said the girl has autism. Her mother was inside the apartment watching her other child and did not see the girl standing outside on the A/C, the sources said.
One neighbor said she pounded on the family's door and alerted the mother.
"I said, 'Your daughter is outside the window on the air conditioner,' and she became frantic," said Deborah Reed.
The air conditioner was a window unit with accordian wings that lock into the window frame. The girl was apparently able to get out by pushing back the accordian side and crawling out through the open space.
Neighbors have similar units and say if the McCrees' air conditioner was properly installed, the girl shouldn't have been able to get out.
The Housing Authority is investigating. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly say there will be no criminal charges.
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