With series like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, Hollywood has empowered young people with the belief that they alone can save the world, often with annoying results. Even more annoying: Sometimes a would-be Chosen One actually does make a huge difference. Whether out of legitimate heroism or youthful impulsiveness, these kids would make most adults feel inadequate. We know, because they're doing it right now.
In 2018, 65-year-old Allen Clemmons was hanging out in his garage, working on his Mustang and generally being a human prescription medicine commercial. Maybe he sawed something while backlit, then laughed in slow motion with his attractive yet age-appropriate wife. You know the drill. All was going well until the car rolled off the block and pinned him. Being slowly crushed by 3,000 pounds of American muscle, Clemmons rationally assessed his options and landed on hysterically shouting for help.
Fortunately, his cries were heard by a nearby nine-year-old boy named Malachi Coffey, who alerted his parents to the troubling situation, who in turn alerted the appropriate authorities. Just kidding! Little Malachi launched an independent investigation and jacked the car by himself.
"Once the car was off of him," the boy later told reporters, presumably from behind a slick pair of Ray-Bans with a cigarette dangling from his lips, "I went and told K-K and granny." Whoever those people are secured Clemmons a helicopter to the hospital, while Malachi received an honor from the sheriff and hopefully at least one Mustang sponsorship.
One morning in 2012, 13-year-old Jeremy Wuitschick's bus ride took a turn for the worse when the driver started gasping for air and waving his hands around before passing out. This was bad for at least 15 reasons, as that was the number of students who were subsequently hurtled down the road in a big metal tube with no one at the wheel.
Wuitschick, who had been sitting in the front, grabbed the steering wheel and channeled his inner Jason Statham. Without the benefit of so much as a learner's permit or, you know, access to the pedals, he managed to pull the bus over without causing any accidents and then turn off its engine. The whole thing was caught on camera, though in slightly lower quality than we generally expect from these sorts of action sequences.
As action movie tropes dictate, the cops arrived at the scene only after all the excitement was over. Before they arrived, another school staff member, who had luckily been driving behind the bus, climbed aboard to give the driver CPR. When reporters asked how he knew what to do, Wuitschick told them he got the idea from a book ... about superheroes. It turns out comics aren't a waste of time after all, mom.
In 2017, 13-year-old Mittal Patadia was at home with her family when her 66-year-old foster mother answered the door for a man asking for water. Being a kindly old woman who takes in foster children, she told Mittal to get the man some water, at which point two more men forced their way into the home, held her at knifepoint, and demanded to know where they kept their valuables. That'll teach her.
When Mittal came back and saw what was going on, she jumped on one of the men's backs, screaming, biting, and pulling his hair. Even though she took a knife to the neck, later needing 351 stitches, she held on, all while screaming for help. Neighbors who heard the ruckus came over to find out what in the name of Liam Neeson was going on, but that was just the start of Mittal's problems: The invaders had the foresight to lock the door.
Mittal gritted her teeth -- which were probably already embedded in some flesh -- and subdued the invaders so she could unlock the door and get help. For fighting off three grown men with blood spurting from her neck, Mittal was one of 24 children selected for that year's Geeta Chopra Bravery Award, because apparently this sort of thing happens twice a month in India.
On Thanksgiving 2002, Tammy Hill was driving her three children home from a family dinner when she briefly unbuckled her seat belt to reach into the backseat and retrieve her phone from her eldest, Titus, who had been using it to talk to his father. Because the traffic safety gods aren't above punishing an unbuckling -- even for one second -- Tammy lost control of the truck, which rolled twice before throwing her clear out of sight. At this point, there is exactly one course of action you would expect the children, who were properly buckled, to take: 1) Cry. 2) There is no Step 2.
Seven-year-old Titus, however, tapped into the years of crisis management training he absolutely didn't have. First he checked on his four-year-old and two-year-old sisters. After determining that they were reasonably intact, he set about looking for his mom. "I knew she was out of the truck, and that was all," he later told reporters. He couldn't find her in the dark, and so -- barefoot in the freezing cold -- he ran half a mile to a nearby farm and climbed under an electric fence to find someone who could help. He had to hustle, on account of his normal seven-year-old fear of the dark.
Emergency services were called, everyone was rescued, and Titus held court in a press conference where he answered questions like a grizzled police chief. When asked what lesson he learned from the incident, he said "Nothing." When asked what it felt like when the truck rolled over, he said "It felt like a truck rolling over." He was one dumb question away from explaining that he was just doing his job, ma'am.
Being a mother of three young children is hard work. You've got to contend with three different nap schedules, ever-conflicting play groups, and the occasional raging inferno. At least one mother did when her apartment building in Decatur, Georgia caught fire in 2013. She was on the second floor and couldn't carry all of her children out by herself, nor was she super keen on leaving any of them in a burning building for even a moment, so her only option was to go out onto her balcony and hope there was someone on the ground to keep her children from becoming something out of a Cormac McCarthy novel.
Fortunately, she spotted ten-year-old Zna Gresham. While Zna's aunt went to work getting people out of the building, the woman threw her one-month-old baby down to Zna, who we like to think caught it by casually opening her shirt pocket with one deft finger.
For many adults, even holding a baby is a stressful situation, but to hear Zna describe it, you'd think she catches falling babies every day after school. We wish her a long and successful career in baby baseball.
In 2017, six-year-old Mamta Dalai and her ten-year-old sister Asanti were playing in their backyard pond when they happened upon a baby crocodile. What sounds like an episode of Dora The Explorer turned decidedly R-rated when the five-foot "baby" attacked Asanti and began to drag her away, her little hand gripped in its jaws. Little did the crocodile know that no one messes with Mamta's sister. No one.
As Mamta described it, "I did not want to lose my sister. So I held her hand tightly and began to drag her with full force or else the crocodile would have dragged her inside the pond." This could have ended badly in a number of ways, but luckily, the crocodile had only halfheartedly committed to savaging the girl, and lost its tenuous grip before slinking away.
Asanti was taken to the hospital, the crocodile was dealt with by the proper authorities, and Mamta was given the same award in the same ceremony in the same year as Mittal up there. Wow, turns out there was some actual competition.
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