Police in Lafayette, Indiana, said 25-year-old Nicholas Bostic was driving around 12:30 a.m. on July 11 when he saw the home up in flames. He threw his car into reverse and pulled into the driveway. He told police he wasn’t able to call 911 and he "didn’t want to waste time trying to find someone who could."
Some media outlets have reported Bostic worked as a pizza delivery man, which was why he was in the neighborhood.
Bostic tried knocking on the door, but no one answered his calls. He was able to get in through the back door and began yelling for people inside.
"I mean, I was high-tailing it, 110%. It started to get hard to see, because the smoke was getting bad," Bostic told journalist Dave Bangert. "I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like I accepted I was going to probably die, right there, that night. But it was a weird calm. You just got to work as fast as you can."
Nicholas Bostic (photo credit: Lafayette, Indiana Police Department)
When he ran upstairs, he found four people — the youngest a 1-year-old and the oldest an 18-year-old — asleep. Once he got them out safely, they told him a 6-year-old girl was still inside.
Without hesitation, Bostic ran back into the house and up the stairs where the other children were, but the child wasn’t there. He would have to make it downstairs to reach her.
"He described looking down the stairwell into a ‘black lagoon’ of smoke and thought it impossible to go that way," police said. "He knew he was there to get that child out, and even though the fire and smoke downstairs frightened him, he would not quit.
"Nicholas wrapped his shirt around his mouth and nose and plunged into the blackness ... [he]crawled on the ground, feeling in front of him with his hands, and used the child’s cries to help him locate her in the darkness."
After he found the child, he rushed back up the stairs and punched through a glass window, but the child’s leg got caught in a cord attached to the blinds. He had to untangle the cord before he leaped from the second-floor window and made sure to land on the side where he wasn’t holding the child. He was able to pick himself up off the ground and carry her to safety.
Miraculously, the child was mostly uninjured.
Bostic suffered from severe smoke inhalation and a serious cut on his arm. He later had to be flown to Indianapolis for treatment.
Video from the scene shows Bostic on the ground injured, while asking repeatedly if the child was OK.
"His selflessness during this incident is inspiring, and he has impressed many with his courage, tenacity, and steadfast calmness in the face of such perilous danger," police said.
According to Bangert, Bostic is out of the hospital.
"Everyone says, hero-this or hero-that," Bostic also told Bangert. "I don’t know about that. I was just a guy."
The city will recognize Bostic at the Lafayette Aviators’ baseball team’s National Night Out event on Aug. 2. Proceeds from the game’s ticket sales will go toward Bostic’s gofundme page to help in his recovery.
Heather Miller contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.