The mother of a three-year-old boy who was saved just as he tumbled out a third-storey window said she will "never be able to repay" the couple who cushioned his fall with a mattress.
Konrad Lightner and his wife, Jennifer, were carrying their box spring mattress out of their Los Angeles apartment when they saw the toddler throw his leg over the window sill, his toys tossed to the ground below.
"Once we saw that his leg was going over the window, Jenny called police," Lightner said in an interview with a local TV station.
After the boy got out, he clung to a telephone wire outside the window, spurring a split-second decision by the Lightners to position their mattress below.
"He started crying, and I knew he couldn't make it back to the window, so I just started getting ready for him to let go," Lightner said.
Forty seconds later the boy let go of the wire and fell almost 10 metres into the arms of Lightner, who used the mattress as a sort of landing pad.
The incident shocked the boy's parents, who were unaware of what had happened until they were notified by a neighbour.
The toddler's mother, Morgane Milligan, told KTLA-TV he had apparently pushed out the window screen and "decided it was really fun to throw toys out there''.
The toddler is autistic and has difficulty communicating, she said.
"I will never be able to repay them for what they did," Milligan said of the Lightners' rescue.
The toddler was taken to a hospital for evaluation, but did not suffer any major injuries - a lucky break given that the Lightners weren't supposed to be in the alleyway when he fell.
The only reason they happened to be there was because they had been delayed by a stuck elevator during the move, the couple said.
"God definitely had us in the right place at the right time," Lightner said.