Baby, what a catch!!!

NY Daily News - December 15, 2005

by BOB KAPPSTATTER, TONY SCLAFANI and JONATHAN LEMIRE

With flames raging behind her, Bronx mom Tracinda Foxe held her newborn son out of her third-floor window yesterday, hoping to get air back into his tiny lungs, when she saw a crowd gathered below.

She prayed. And then Foxe did the only thing she thought she could do to save her son: She dropped him.

"I said, 'God, please save my son,' " said a weeping Foxe, 30. "I prayed that someone would catch him and save his life."

One-month-old Eric Guzman fell 30 feet through the frigid morning air - and, miraculously, landed safely in the arms of Felix Vazquez, a city Housing Authority supervisor.

"I didn't think - I just wanted to get him," said Vazquez, who, appropriately enough, is the catcher on the nearby Forest Houses baseball team. "I just reacted."

The grab was recorded by a surveillance camera.

Firefighters then rescued Foxe, who was reunited with her uninjured baby and later gave Vazquez a tearful hug of thanks.

The fire began at 8:30 a.m., minutes after Foxe returned to her Gouverneur Morris Houses apartment from dropping off her two older children - Raymond, 11, and Alexis, 9 - at school.

Cradling Eric in her arms, she drifted off to sleep only to awaken when acrid black smoke filled her apartment.

"I thought about running for the front door but I couldn't make it," she said. "I closed the [bedroom] door but then me and my baby were trapped."

Her only thought to save her child, Foxe squeezed the newborn through the window's metal guards so the screaming infant could gulp in fresh air.

Spotting the baby, Vazquez told some of his workers to run to the third floor to help while he and others hopped a fence and prepared to make a desperate catch.

Screaming "Save my son, save my son," Foxe dropped the child to Vazquez, who was standing like a football player poised to catch a punt.

"He wasn't crying, so I gave him mouth-to-mouth," said Vazquez, 39, a former lifeguard at Orchard Beach. "I felt like it was one of my own - I have three - and when he started crying, I felt even better."

Moments later, Firefighters D. J. Martin and Bobby Eustace of Ladder 27 burst into the apartment, found a hysterical Foxe and gave her an oxygen mask.

Mother and child were treated at Jacobi Medical Center and released.

Officials said the fire started in her kitchen and was considered an accident.

When Foxe returned to her burned-out home yesterday afternoon to collect some of Eric's singed clothes and toys, she spotted Vazquez, who was already back to work, and thanked him.

"It's going to be hard, since I've lost almost everything," said a choked-up Foxe, preparing to spend the night at a relative's home. "But most importantly, my baby is okay. I am so thankful."