The cops, who caught a 9-year-old girl jumping from the three-story balcony of her burning condo, are saying that they have never met a braver girl. Nine-year-old Sofiya Doroshenko, however, says that she was very scared when the fire gave her no other choice but to take a leap of faith – and jump down 25 feet into the arms of strangers.
Tuesday’s fire in Sofiya’s condominium building in Mahwah, New Jersey, started around 2 p.m. across the hall from the little girl’s apartment, according to a February 3 ABC News report. Sofiya was home alone since her mom had just left for work and her stepfather was still on his way home and 20 minutes away. Sofiya is from the Ukraine and had come to the United States with her family just five months ago.
According to Mahwah Fire Department officials, when officers arrived at the scene, the fire in Sofiya’s condominium had made its way to the roof. While police officers evacuated everyone from the building, Sofiya was trapped.
With nowhere to go, the 9-year-old girl sought refuge on the balcony. When the fire was rolling out the door onto the balcony, Sofiya had no other choice but to jump: “There was no net, no pad to land on, no ladder to climb down. Fire trucks had yet to arrive.”
When talking to reporters about the frightful experience, Sofiya said that she was very scared:
“I saw black smoke coming from the door of my room,” Sofiya said adding that when she tried to open the front door to get out the smoke was so thick that she couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what to do and I just listened to them. I just jumped.”
The three Mahwah Police Department officers who were ready to catch Sofiya with open arms after her 25 foot jump included Lieutenant Jeffrey Dino, Sgt. Brendan Mullin and Officer Thomas Solimano. Sgt. Mullin emphasized that Sofiya showed incredible bravery under the most horrific circumstances and that he thinks “she deserves the most credit here because of the way she reacted.” Officer Solimano commented that Sofiya was much calmer and cooler under immense pressure than you would expect of a 9-year-old.
Even though Sofiya’s family lost almost everything they owned in the fire, the little girl’s mom feels nothing but gratitude. Her daughter sustained no injuries, not even a scratch when she was caught by the three police officers. “I want to thank them,” said Sofiya’s mom Yulia Doroshenko to reporters. “I didn’t believe this could happen, but it happened and thank you for saving my child.”
Lieutenant Jeffrey Dino, who was one of the three cops ready to catch the 9-year-old girl as she was jumping from the balcony, said that “she put complete faith in us and when she jumped back we caught her. She’s the most confident, brave little kid I ever met.”