When we think about heroes, we tend to picture firefighters or soldiers or adults who dress up in bat costumes and punch sewer-dwelling crocodile men. But in a world plagued by the constant threat of horrible catastrophes both natural and man-made, sometimes the only people who can step up to save the day aren't even old enough to drive.
#6. Six-Year-Old Saves His Little Brother from a Cougar
Bryce Forbes, a 6-year-old boy from British Columbia, was headed outside to his garage one day when he ran into a wild cougar, just out there waiting for him, because this is apparently the kind of shit you have to deal with in British Columbia. Either that or his parents seriously mixed up some telephone numbers when they called for a sitter.
"Could you send a MILF instead? At least they have experience with kids."
Anyway, rather than flee into the house and never come back outside ever again like a sensible child, Bryce ran past the cougar to grab his younger brother, Tucker, who was playing just beyond the child-feasting mountain lion in the backyard, presumably wearing a sensory-deprivation helmet that prevented him from noticing the large predatory cat prowling alongside their parents' Chrysler.
After running the 40 or 50 feet to grab Tucker, Bryce dragged the younger boy upstairs into a room above the garage (once again, past a freaking cougar that was actively stalking them) and called his parents, who were understandably a bit skeptical at first to hear their son babbling some nonsense about lions roaming around on their property. When they took a look outside, however, they discovered the mountain lion was all too real, so they immediately got on the phone and called for professional emergency assistance. What arrived instead were the Mounties, who assessed the situation and shot the cougar dead, because damn that.
Saffron Blaze, via Wikimedia
Rescuing damsels and putting monstrous predators in the cold ground since 1873.
A posthumous examination found that the animal, while technically full-grown, had actually been undersized for its age. That means that Bryce didn't just put himself in harm's way to save his brother from a lion -- he did it to save his brother from a hungry lion.
#5. Twelve-Year-Old Kicks a Door Down to Save Siblings from a House Fire
Justin Jackson's parents went out for the night and left him in charge of his younger brothers and sister, because 12 is totally old enough to be responsible for your entire family, and Happy Hour at Chili's isn't going to drink itself. When a thunderstorm knocked out the power to their house, Justin gathered his siblings together around a lit candle until they realized how boring life is without Xbox and decided to give up and go to bed.
Childlike whimsy is a poor substitute for sweet, sweet Halo.
But sometime later, Justin woke up to find the curtains engulfed in flames, because this is what happens when you leave a 12-year-old in charge of your house. To be fair, it is unclear whether the fire was started by candles or a lightning strike, but lightning generally doesn't strike drapery unless it is made of tinfoil and dangling off the side of a radio tower. Regardless, Justin knew there was no time to lose and quickly ushered his brothers outside, where he started banging on his neighbors' doors to get help. Nobody responded, because frantic door-knocking at 2 a.m. is something people in suburban America tend to investigate with terrified silence and/or a shotgun.
Which is why the Jehovah's Witnesses started calling it a day after 6.
When no help came, Justin was forced to rush back inside the house (which, as you may recall, was on fire) to try to find his sister, who hadn't made it out yet. He found her trapped in her bedroom behind a door that wouldn't budge, so Justin, channeling all of the Patrick Swayze he could muster, spin-kicked the goddamned door down and carried her outside to safety.
But Justin still wasn't finished. Now that his brothers and sister were safe, he ran back inside the house for a third time to call 911, since it was clear he couldn't rely on the adults in his neighborhood to do a fucking thing. The house burned to the ground, but everyone escaped unhurt, and Justin Jackson can look forward to a long career of someone making a Backdraft reference every time he walks into a room.
#4. Fifteen-Year-Old Girl Takes a Bullet for a Baby
Sarah Rivera, age 15, was walking to the store on a relatively quiet Saturday when her Bronx neighborhood suddenly erupted with gunfire. Sarah looked up and saw a determined young lunatic shooting randomly into the street like he was being haunted by winged leprechauns. Among the hapless pedestrians in the man's line of fire was a freaking stroller-bound infant, who had been abandoned by her father in his desperation to escape. Because let's be honest -- when you're scrambling for cover in a storm of bullets, a baby carriage is a liability.
Maartje van Caspel/iStock/Getty Images
Unless you're willing to entertain some alternative parenting tactics.
Not stopping to think about the fact that running toward gunfire is usually the opposite of what most personal safety classes would instruct you to do in this situation, Sarah made a beeline for the stroller and shoved the defenseless child out of the way. She caught a bullet in the upper thigh for her effort, but considering thighs are more or less at stroller height, she almost certainly spared the baby from an unwanted serving of lead salad.
The gunman, presumably deciding that he'd proven his point, finished his rampage and ran the hell away, because having to explain to the police why you suddenly opened fire on a baby carriage is an unenviable position to be in. Once the coast was clear and people began crawling out from their hiding places, someone fashioned a tourniquet for Sarah and got her to the hospital, where she quickly recovered. It is unclear whether she went back to the store to get what she'd gone out to buy in the first place, or if she just decided to let that shit go.
"Well I don't need it now!"