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On September 11, 1991, Geraldo Silva was standing outside an apartment building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, waiting for a friend to join him, when something caused him to look up.
Plummeting headfirst toward him was a baby!
Instinctively, Silva knew that the child would surely die if it struck the sidewalk, so he stuck out his arms as if he were about to catch a football. The impact knocked them both to the sidewalk.
Dazed, Silva examined his surprise catch from the sky and believed the little girl was dead. Blood was pouring from her mouth. He could see now that the baby was small, probably only 20 pounds or so, but when she landed in his arms, she had felt like a 100-pound sack of grain.
“Mama,” the child cried in a weak voice.
Silva thanked God that the baby was still alive. He called for help, and one of the shaken passersby who had gathered as a witness to the remarkable event offered to drive them both to a hospital.
Meanwhile, seven floors above the scene, Najwa Safatli was washing dishes in their apartment when she heard the sound of glass breaking in the living room. Startled, she thought immediately of her 18-month-old daughter Jasmin, who was seated in a highchair in front of a window. Could little Jasmin have managed to crawl out of the highchair and broken a vase or some other glass object?
When Najwa entered the living room, she was shocked to see that Jasmin was not in her highchair and that the window behind the chair was broken.
The young mother searched the living room, calling for her daughter. She could not yet allow herself to think the unthinkable. Jasmin could not have fallen out of the window. Perhaps a large bird or something had broken the window and frightened her baby. Jasmin must be somewhere in the apartment.
Najwa Safatli told journalist Christina Menzies that when she finally looked out the window, she was horrified to see that a crowd had gathered on the street below. At about the same time, a neighbor pounded on the apartment door and told Najwa that Jasmin had fallen out of the window and had been taken to a hospital.
Najwa was certain that Jasmin, their only child, was dead. She believed that it would be impossible for an 18-month-old child—or anyone else, for that matter—to fall out of a seventh-floor window and survive.
Frantic, she didn’t wait for the elevator, but ran barefooted down the stairs to the parking garage in the apartment building. She rushed to the hospital, trying to calm herself to expect the worst. Once she learned the fate of Jasmin, she would call her husband, Ahmad, who was at work.
When the doctors at the hospital told the fearful mother that Jasmin was alive, Najwa said that she knew a miracle had occurred. Her baby had suffered only a broken leg and some bruises. Najwa thanked God and blessed Geraldo Silva for saving Jasmin’s life.
Silva shrugged off all attempts to categorize him as a hero. In his opinion, a benevolent fate had managed to place him at precisely the right spot to catch little Jasmin as she hurtled through the air to the street below.
As the Safatli family recreated the accident, it appeared that Jasmin had stood up on the seat of her highchair and had lost her balance. Although she weighed only 22 pounds, she apparently struck the window with enough force to break it and fall through. According to a witness, Jasmin had bounced off an awning on the fifth floor, thus slowing her descent to some degree.
But it was 45-year-old refrigeration technician Geraldo Silva who completed the miracle by being in exactly the right place at the right time to reach out his arms and catch Jasmin before she landed headfirst on the sidewalk......
Read the rest of this article in the October 2007 issue of FATE
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