A cat that fell from the upper deck of Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday was saved by the patriotism of an Air Force veteran and his wife.
Craig Cromer told the Deseret News that he and his wife, Kimberly, always carry a large flag to the games and attach it to the railing in front of their seats, using zip ties.
The flag was unexpectedly called into service during the first quarter of the game Saturday evening when a black-and-white cat slipped off the upper deck and dangled above a crowd of horrified fans, while frantically trying to free itself.
The Cromers quickly released the flag and bystanders helped to stretch it out like a life net used by firefighters. After what seemed like a lifetime — or nine — the cat fell into the flag as bystanders gasped and shrieked.
Videos posted on Twitter showed the incident unfolding from several different angles, then the crowd erupting in cheers once it was clear the cat had survived the fall. The terrified cat, however, didn’t stick around for photos, or to thank Cromer for his service.
It scratched and clawed the student who was holding it, then raced off into the crowd when the student dropped it. Cromer said as far as he knows, the cat still hasn’t been found, but at least it survived the fall. Equally important, the flag survived the catch, and no one has complained of this being an unauthorized use of the flag, Cromer said.
The flag had a few small puncture holes from the cat’s claws, but was otherwise undamaged, Cromer said. Still, the couple plans to retire it from service; they will frame it and buy a new one for future games.
Married for 34 years, Cromer said that he and his wife, Kimberly, are equally passionate about the flag, but she’s the one who insists on bringing the flag to the games. The two appeared briefly on “Fox and Friends” on Monday, where co-host Steve Doocy explained how the couple’s patriotism helped avoid a “cat-astrophe.”
Cromer served in the Air Force from 1985 to 2007; after retiring, he went to work for the University of Miami, where he’s now a facilities manager. It was the first time he’s caught a cat hurtling through the air and, he hopes, the last.
“It was a nerve-wracking 2 to 3 minutes,” Cromer said.
Actually, the game continued to be nerve-wracking until the end, with Miami eking out a 25-23 win over Appalachian State with a fourth-quarter field goal.