It was a frantic scene in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx in New York City on Monday after a troubled father jumped to his death in front of a local train while clutching to his 5-year-old daughter, who miraculously survived.
The father, Fernando Balbuena-Flores, 45, was “cut in half,” by a Manhattan-bound 4 train at around 8 a.m. cops and witnesses told the New York Post. The train stopped over his daughter Ferni just enough to allow her to crawl along the track bed into the arms of a samaritan who had quickly jumped onto the track to help as the tragedy unfolded.
“I watched as that train came around that corner and I saw as the man jumped and I see the little feet hanging out,” witness Jennifer Hub told WDSU, while noting “at least 20, 30 people screaming” on the elevated subway platform.
In cell-phone video of the girl’s rescue highlighted by the New York Post, a sobbing female onlooker can be heard saying “Oh my God” while encouraging the girl to crawl from underneath the halted train.
“Little by little, my love, little by little!” she said before thanking God after the girl finally makes it from underneath the train relatively unhurt.
She was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, where she was reunited with her mother, Niurka Caraballo, who told The New York Times that her daughter was in “perfect condition.”
“Thank God and the angels who watched over her. Everything is O.K., except that now I’m without my husband,” Caraballo told the publication.
Antonio Love, 32, who was one of the men captured on video helping to rescue the girl, told The New York Times that he was walking near the Kingsbridge Road station when he heard people screaming. When he ran up the platform he noticed that another man identified as Jairo Torres was already trying to help the girl.
He said the girl was crying with blood on her head and her father’s body was beneath the train's wheels.
“The only thing she was saying was ‘Papa, my papa,’” he said.
Prior to the jump, the girl’s father was said to be arguing on the phone with his wife, the New York Daily News reported.
Torres, who is a Bronx construction worker, told the Daily News that he was at first “paralyzed” by what he saw but then quickly decided to help the girl.
“I was paralyzed at first, just like everyone. But then I just jumped. ... I didn’t do it to be a hero ... it was immediate,” he said.
He said when he looked under the train he saw the girl and her father lying motionless until the girl twitched just a bit.
“When she moved her hand I said thank God she’s alive,” Torres told the Daily News. "I said to myself, ‘The girl is alive, the girl is alive!' It was the first thing I thought of because there’s always a space between the train and the track. I knew in my heart she was alive.”
He said when he called out to the girl and urged her to crawl toward him. She then started crying and called out “Papi, papi” for her father.
“I couldn’t crawl under the train because of the electricity in the tracks,” he said. “Then I took her out and passed her to the person on the platform.”
He said when he later met the girl’s mother, “she hugged me and thanked me and cried of course, and that was everything.”