Four people, including two young girls and an infant boy, jumped from a second-floor window into the arms of a police officer when the family panicked over flames engulfing their home in Sayreville, New Jersey Monday, officials say.
Twelve-year-old Jailyn Holloway, her cousin and the cousin's three children were trapped in the bathroom of a second-floor apartment at 11 Jacobsen St. as the fire raged Monday afternoon.
"I thought I was gonna die. I was just worried about the babies," Holloway told NBC 4 New York.
Knowing they couldn't battle the suffocating smoke, Holloway made a decision.
"My aunt told me not to open the window but I opened the window and jumped," she said, referring to her cousin.
The girl landed 15 feet below and found a police officer at the corner. But before he could get a ladder, the flames had taken over the house, with the mother and three kids still on the second floor.
Sayreville police patrolman Brian Gay, among the first to respond to the fire at 11 Jacobsen St., spotted the family near the window.
"I'm trying to explain to the little girl in the window that a ladder's on the way, don't jump," Gay said. "I looked at the people getting the ladder, then looked up in the air -- she was already jumping."
Gay could only focus on catching the 8-year-old girl.
"As she was on her way down, I caught her," he said. "She hit the ground a little, but not too hard."
The children's mother, desperate to save them, then threw the one-month-old baby boy and the 2-year-old girl out the window next. She then jumped into Gay's arms herself.
They all landed safely and weren't seriously hurt. They were taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for evaluation.
Gay, 13-year veteran with the Sayreville Police Department, told NJ Advance Media it was one of the most daring acts he's performed as an officer.
"I'm a little shaken up, but I'll be all right," he said. "I'm glad to see that they're OK."
Sayreville Police Captain Glenn Skarzynski said the efforts by Gay and the other responding officers "is a testament to our department and departments around the nation who perform selfless acts every day."
Holloway's mother, Kristin Nelson, said her daughter's a "lucky kid" and "a lot of guardian angels" were looking out for her.
A cause of the fire was being investigated.