Nearly 90, He Acted Fast to Save a Toddler

updated 04/28/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/28/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

David Baron
West Palm Beach, Fla.

He has artificial hips and a pacemaker, but when David Baron saw a little girl in peril, he turned into Superman.

A mallwalker, Baron was finishing his daily circuit with wife Sylvia at a West Palm Beach, Fla., shopping center on March 12 when he spotted 3-year-old Morgan Scott balancing on a ledge near the escalator. Suddenly the curly-haired tyke grabbed the rubber railing from the outside and began to rise upward, legs dangling 20 feet off the ground. "Mommy!" she screamed. As horrified bystanders looked on, Baron bounded up the escalator two stairs at a time, grabbed Morgan's wrist and hauled her over the side to safety. "If he hadn't gotten her hand, she would have been gone," says Morgan's grandmother Josephine DeBiase, 71, who was watching Morgan and holding her 5-month-old brother Hunter; mom Donna DeBiase-Scott was in the restroom at the time. Adds DeBiase-Scott: "I'm so grateful."

Baron, a Navy vet and retired newspaper delivery supervisor, shrugs off praise. "You don't think; you just do," says the great-grandfather. Still, as he looks forward to his 90th birthday July 2, Baron—who lifts 8-lb. weights every day—is glad he still has spring in his step. "I feel," he says, "just as young as ever."

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