There's a dark thread to the heartwarming story of the off-duty MTA bus driver who reached out and caught a 7-year-old girl who fell off a third-floor air conditioning unit in Coney Island Monday. (See the amazing video below.) Obviously, questions are being raised about just how the girl, who is autistic, wound up on the A.C. unit anyway. After finding out a little more about her home life, the incident doesn't seem too surprising.
The girl's mother, Shaleema McCree, has been cited three times by the Administration for Children’s Services for "educational neglect," which usually means failing to send children to school. And a source tells the Daily News the children "were removed from the home on March 5 after McCree’s 15-year-old son stabbed himself in the back at school and said the devil told him to do it." A family court judge allowed the children to return to the home two weeks later over the objections of ACS workers.
Steven St. Bernard, the bus driver who caught the girl, tearing a tendon in the process, has been rightfully hailed a hero by the daily tabloids. (The Daily News is giving him "a Hometown Heroes in Transit Award," and the Post calls him a "lifesaver in action.") But St. Bernard says, "I’m not a hero — anybody would have done it. I did it out of normal instincts." Which is exactly what we tell people whenever we rinse out our beer bottles before putting them in the recycling bin.
Last night St. Bernard met with McCree, who thanked him profusely. Her daughter survived with minor injuries, but she's under investigation by ACS. It's still unclear how the girl ended up out on the air conditioner, but witnesses tell CBS 2, "The little girl apparently pulled back an accordion-style partition that is supposed to be secured to the window. She slipped through the gap and climbed on top of the window unit."