Just about every kid dreams about doing something courageous — standing up to the school bully or being the mature voice in the face of trouble. Few kids ever get the chance to live out this fantasy, however.
But when Jerald Withers discovered a true catastrophe in 2017, he learned that real-life danger was nothing like the comic books. Still, despite being at first baffled by what he saw, Jerald summoned the courage to do what no one else his age would….
Eleven-year-old Jerald Withers had about as much responsibility as any other kid his age. He had to keep his grades up and do chores around the house — that was about it. But on one November day, he entered a matter of life and death.
Naturally, Jerald didn’t expect to find himself in such a dire situation. The Festus, Missouri, resident was focused more on that night’s homework, and whether or not his precious Green Bay Packers would be able to pull out a win that weekend.
However, one bus ride changed everything. As Jerald gazed out the window on his way home from school, something by a nearby bridge caught his eye. He leaned forward and squinted to get a better look.
For one thing, it looked like the guardrail over the bridge was completely busted on one end. Only some serious force could’ve caused such a dent, but Jerald couldn’t imagine what that would be.
But Jerald’s heart dropped when he noticed what looked like bits of machinery scattered just off the side of the road. Beyond that, he thought some kind of figure was lying in a field. Maybe it was a deer?
Running up the bus aisle, Jerald brought all this to the attention of the driver. The ornery man admitted there was some kind of shape out there, but said there was nothing. He ignored Jerald’s protests and whizzed right past the scene.
Once he got home, Jerald was on the verge of panic. Most other kids would’ve forgotten the entire issue, and just plopped themselves down in front of the TV. Jerald, on the other hand, knew he couldn’t rest without finding out what happened at that bridge.
Jerald’s mom, Brandy Overturf, noticed that he seemed off. When she sat him down to figure out what was wrong, he shared what he saw from the bus window. Fighting back tears, he said that he feared the worst.
Kids make up crazy stories all the time, but Brandy understood just how serious her son was being. They hopped into the car, and, while speeding down the road, Jerald told his mom exactly where he came across the mysterious shape.
Jerald’s anxiety peaked on the drive over. Doubts swirling in his mind, and he wondered if he would remember the right spot. He even started to question if he really saw anything at all. Still, he would’ve regretted just plopping in front of the TV that evening.
But as luck would have it, Jerald’s directions to the bridge proved correct. Brandy and her son parked the car and ambled over to the bent guardrail. Looking down, Jerald pointed to something in a ditch.
As they hiked down to the ditch, Jerald and Brandy stumbled upon a terrifying sight: the remains of a motorcycle, wrecked beyond belief, spread all across the area. Intuition told the mother and son that the bike wasn’t just left here for trash pickup.
The Duncan Banner
Brandy whirled around as Jerald sprinted to the ditch. She soon understood why. A motorcyclist was sprawled out in the dirt. Though he was wearing a helmet, he wasn’t moving at all.
Brandy almost wanted to rush her boy away right then and there. After all, she didn’t want an 11 year old to witness a gruesome accident. But Jerald held out hope for the biker. He grabbed his mom’s phone and dialed 911.
When paramedics arrived on the scene, they confirmed that the motorcyclist was still breathing — but barely. Identifying him as Billy McMahan, they rushed to the hospital in an attempt to save his life.
John Wayne Airport
Jerald’s grandfather Bob, an avid biker himself, comforted the boy later that evening. Clearly, Jerald did everything he could, plus a little bit more. Bob’s kind words were then cut off by the telephone ringing. It was the hospital.
Against all odds, the caller said, Billy was going to pull through! He would make a full recovery and be able to return to — and bike with — his family in a matter of days. Of course, the hospital staff said that Jerald played a pivotal role in saving his life.
By the time the school bus first passed Billy, he had already been sprawled in the ditch for hours. If Brandy and Jerald hadn’t gone back out to investigate, Billy surely would have frozen to death overnight.
CBC / Andrew Foote
Festus celebrated Jerald as a local hero. One stranger named Rob Bates even gifted him tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals game for his vigilance. Obviously, Jerald didn’t help Billy McMahan for the attention. But it did make his dreams come true.
As the story spread across the country, even the Green Bay Packers office heard about it. They thanked their brave fan by sending Jerald an autographed photo of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, along with a box full of official Packers gear!
Twitter / Green Bay Packers
Still, Jerald recognized that his real reward was the chance to help out a person in need. Even though he was just a kid, Jerald saw what nobody else was able to — and that certainly wasn’t the only time paying attention saved a life.
Like many, Angelo Mondragon thoroughly enjoyed spending as much time outside as possible. Even more so when the sun was shining and the weather was warm. But one summer getaway suddenly became the most pivotal moment of his life.
During summer, the father of two loved nothing more than taking his family on trips to the park. Luckily, they all share the same passion for the outdoors.
One particularly hot afternoon, Angelo brought them to Windsor Lake. It was a beautiful scenic spot they’d been to before, but today wouldn’t be like any of the others.
By the time they arrived, it was packed with people trying to keep cool in the sweltering heat. The Mondragons quickly claimed a spot and ran off to take a refreshing dip in the lake.
Angelo started to swim out farther than the rest of his family, but as he did, he felt something brush up against his leg. When he turned to see what it was, he was in complete shock.
It was a child’s foot! Angelo couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He reached out his hand and grabbed onto it before it floated away. That was when he noticed something even more troubling…
The little girl whom the foot belonged to was unconscious. Angelo immediately cradled her and swam, screaming, back to shore. An ambulance was immediately called and as it arrived, paramedics attempted to resuscitate.
The girl’s name was Sitali Hernandez, and she was just three years old. As it turns out, one main issue that led to her frightening situation could have easily been avoided.
Young Sitali was playing in the water without a life vest — something most kids that age are required to wear. Due to this simple mistake, she was now fighting for her life.
Finally, Sitali arrived at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado. Doctors and nurses rushed to revive her when suddenly things took an even more dramatic turn.
Sitali awoke! After clearing her lungs of water and returning to a stable breathing pattern, she was slowly — but miraculously — coming back to life.
The young girl was then taken to the Children’s Hospital in Aurora where she was expected to make a full recovery. Though stricken with guilt, Sitali’s mother was grateful and had one thing left to do.
She had to thank Angelo in person for his heroic act. “You are a guardian angel who was in the right place at the right time to help my daughter,” she tearfully said as they embraced. And now, it was Sitali’s turn.
Not long after the harrowing ordeal took place, Angelo visited the Children’s Hospital and reunited with Sitali. He was overjoyed to see how well she was recovering, as their reunion then led to one final heartwarming moment.
Although Sitali was only three, and unconscious at the time Angelo pulled her out of the water, she still seemed to know that this man had saved her life. They suddenly embraced, leaving not one dry eye in the room.
If Angelo hadn’t been in that exact spot in Lake Windsor that afternoon — or reacted the way he did— Sitali may never have made it out of the water alive.
Angelo was a hero for what he did that day, and he says that he will remember that incredible twist of fate for the rest of his life.