Nicholas Bostic, a 25-year-old from Lafayette, Ind., was hailed as a hero after he rescued the five youths. Bostic noticed a house on fire while driving around at night and risked his life — even jumping out of a window with a six-year-old in his arms — to save the occupants.
Bostic had to be flown to nearby Indianapolis for treatment of severe smoke inhalation and a large gash on his right arm. He also suffered cuts, burns and blisters and was treated for multiple days in hospital.
Bostic’s cousin, Richard Stair, created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the hero pizza delivery man’s hospital bills, with an initial goal of US$100,000.
As of publishing time, the page had garnered at least $516,000 in donations.
“This kid is the real deal,” Stair wrote on the page. “Sadly, he has some serious injuries and will need help during his recovery.”
An update posted on the campaign’s page by Stair on July 16 reads that Bostic is feeling better after the ordeal and is in good spirits.
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“The amount of support and donations is beyond anything we could have ever hoped for,” Stair wrote.
In a press release from the Lafayette Police Department, authorities recounted how Bostic immediately leapt into action when he noticed the burning house.
Bostic had no phone on him and knew time was of the essence if anyone was trapped in the inferno. He made his way to the back door and called out to its occupants, with no reply.
He “contemplated the possibility that everyone had already evacuated,” the police statement reads. “Not taking the chance that someone could still be inside, he decided to go in.”
Upstairs, Bostic found a one-year-old baby and three teenagers, aged 13 to 18, who had been roused by his yells.
“For a minute I didn’t understand it, but my sister ran upstairs with the baby in her hands and yelling at us to get up because there’s a fire,” 13-year-old Shaylee Barrett told the Purdue Exponent. “And for a minute I froze and I laid there because I was confused. That’s when we went downstairs and Nick was downstairs helping us.”
Bostic helped the four youths escape but once they were outside he learned that there was still a six-year-old trapped inside.
“Without hesitation, he ran back into the burning house,” police said.
Bostic described the ground floor of the house as being a “black lagoon” of smoke, according to police, and had to crawl on the floor, feeling with his hands to get around the house.
He told police he had an “inner dialogue” with himself about whether getting the last child out was possible but was determined not to quit, though the house felt like “walking into an oven.”
Bostic heard the cries of a child in the blackness and used her voice to guide him. Once he had her, though, he wasn’t able to locate the backdoor in the smoke-filled room.
He ran back up the stairs where the smoke wasn’t as thick and “broke open a window by punching it with his bare hand,” police wrote.
Bostic jumped out of the second-storey window carrying the six-year-old, and landed on his side to cushion their fall.
“The 6-year-old child was miraculously mostly uninjured,” the press release reads.
The parents of four of the five rescued youths — one of the teenagers was there for a sleepover — were out for a date night when the fire started and returned home to find their house engulfed in flames and surrounded by emergency vehicles.
David and Tiera Barrett expressed their gratitude to Bostic in an interview with the Exponent.
“I literally told him he’s now part of our family,” David Barrett said. “And he was all on board with it. Once we get settled someplace, we’re going to invite him over and his girlfriend for dinner.”