A Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., man has credited his six-year-old grandson with saving his life when he was seriously injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident earlier this month.
On June 23, Walter Small, 59, and his grandson Bradley Reid were riding on Small's all-terrain vehicle near their cabin in Red Cliff, just west of Grand Falls-Windsor.
A rear tire on Small's four-wheeler got caught in a rut, and the ATV tipped Small and Bradley toward a patch of alder bushes. Small managed to push his grandson free of the ATV, but Small got trapped under the vehicle with his lower leg badly injured and snarled in the machinery.
The six-year-old tried to lift the ATV off Small, and tried to dig him out from underneath the vehicle with his bare hands, to no avail. As evening fell, Bradley tried to walk to get help for his grandfather, but he was too far away from the main road.
"'I'll get you out somehow, Poppy,' he said," recounted Small. "'It's too far, I'm afraid,' he said, 'I'll sit by you and listen.'"
Excruciating pain, gasoline dripping
The pair spent the night in the woods with no food, water, or cellphone. All the while, Small was in excruciating pain from his injury and from ATV gasoline dripping into the wound.
Bradley concentrated on keeping his grandfather awake by tapping him on the face and telling Small he loved him.
"He kept telling me that 50,000 times in the woods, and that's what kept me going," recalled an emotional Small.
The next morning, they heard a truck coming down a nearby dirt road, and Bradley ran out to flag it down.
Small said the two young men in the truck were surprised to see the little boy.
"And he said, 'Never mind me, get in there and get that bike off my Poppy. He's hurt bad.'"
The two young men called an ambulance. Responders cut Small free of the ATV and underbrush, and rushed him and his grandson to hospital in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Small said he was too weak to speak by that point, and he figured he only had about three hours to live.
Grandson not scared
Small called his grandson a hero.
As for Bradley, he said he wasn't scared by the ordeal. He was just concentrating on taking care of his grandfather.
"Yeah. I stayed by Poppy and I [told him I] love him and 'Poppy, you'll be OK.'"
Small said his leg is healing, but he's still having nightmares. He also warns other outdoor enthusiasts to carry a cellphone and a supply of food and water with them on their ATVs at all times.