One minute he was happily playing games with his sister in their parents’ home. The next, the 18-month-old boy had plunged 80ft from the seventh-floor apartment.
But astonishingly, the toddler landed with barely a scratch – after bouncing off a cafe awning and into the arms of a passing doctor.
Before his extraordinary fall, the boy had apparently climbed through a window and on to a balcony after his mother and father ‘popped out’ of their Paris flat.
Philippe Bensignor, the doctor who caught the toddler, was walking by with his wife and son on Monday when they spotted the child falling.
He said: ‘I was there at the right time. My son happened to look up and he saw that a little boy was on the balcony and had somehow got through the railing and was playing on the very edge of a vertical drop into the street.
‘I just had the time to get across the street and place myself. I said to myself “whatever happens, I mustn’t miss him”.
‘He didn’t have a scratch. He cried for a few moments and then calmed down and fell asleep.’
The toddler’s fall was broken by the awning of Le Vincennes cafe – which was only in place because a mechanism had jammed and stopped it from being lowered.
The cafe was closed for France’s All Saints bank holiday and the awning would usually have been down.
A man living in a building opposite the North-East Paris apartment said he had seen the boy playing by the window with a girl a few years older.
Neighbours prevented the toddler’s sister from following him out on to the balcony by talking to her through the locked front door.
Samia Benmoussa said: ‘I said, “Where is your brother?” and she said, “He’s fallen”. I panicked until I discovered what had happened. It was a real miracle.’
The boy was taken to hospital for tests, but was found to only have sustained minor scratches.
Following the incident, the child’s parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were held in custody at a police station. Yesterday they were charged with causing injury to a child through neglect.
If found guilty, they could face a large fine or a prison sentence.
A police spokesman said: ‘His parents, who were not in the apartment at the time, were arrested soon afterwards and taken into custody.
‘It appears they had popped out of the flat just before the incident. They have now been charged with neglect leading to injury.’
The boy and his sister are being cared for by other family members and supported by social workers.
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