It happened last November, at around 4 a.m., when a fire started on the second floor. “I got my family out,” said Smith. “Then I started banging on doors on the first floor. I tried getting to the second floor, but the smoke was too black. I couldn’t see; I couldn’t breathe. So I turned around and came outside. That’s when I saw people hanging out the window.”
Boykin was at his friend Melanie Nunemaker’s house, across the street from the complex. He knew something was wrong, he said, “when I saw a baby drop out of the window.” Catching the child below was Smith.
Boykin ran to a nearby house to get a ladder and rushed back to help. He found Smith in a crouch with his arms outstretched, shouting, “Jump! I got you.” He caught several people.
Boykin climbed the ladder to coax those on the third floor to “turn around and come toward me because they couldn’t see through the smoke,” he said.
“I tried to walk out the front door, but a big cloud hit me. The smoke was getting to me so bad, I couldn’t breathe,” resident Chase Ray told 10TV. “He saved my life, for sure.” (Learn these proven skills to survive any emergency.)
And he wasn’t finished. When Boykin saw his burned-out neighbors, he took 20 or so of them back to Nunemaker’s house. “We gave them clothes, shoes, whatever we had—and they didn’t,” Boykin said.