Jaimen Ortiz
Jacquelyn Martin  /  AP
Jaimen Ortiz, 29, receives a Certificate of Recognition from the Arlington County Board in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday. Ortiz, who is originally from Guatemala, caught a 2-year-old girl when she fell from a window in October.
updated 12/13/2006 11:43:54 AM ET 2006-12-13T16:43:54

ARLINGTON, Va. — It took a second or two for Jaimen Ortiz to fully comprehend what he was seeing: two toddlers playing in an open second-floor window, and one of them hanging from the window sill.

So Ortiz hopped a fence and ran to the apartment building. Just as he got there, the 2-year-old girl fell, screaming. Ortiz put out his arms and caught her cleanly, perhaps saving her life and certainly preventing serious injury.

"If I had delayed one more second, she would have fallen to the ground," Ortiz said through a Spanish interpreter, recalling the Oct. 13 incident.

Ortiz's quick thinking was honored Tuesday in Arlington, where the County Board presented him a certificate of recognition for his heroism.

The 29-year-old seemed slightly overwhelmed by the attention he received Tuesday as he fielded multiple interview requests.

"I have a 5-year-old child, and you never know. Maybe someday he might need help like I was able to give to this girl," he said.

While Ortiz was unaccustomed to the recognition, it's not the first time he has been a hero. As a teenager growing up in Guatemala, he helped save the wife of a friend from drowning.

The toddlers' father has been charged with reckless endangerment.

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