A terrifying accident could have produced the most dispiriting of tragedies.
Instead, it produced a most inspiring young hero — 10-year-old Bradley Mitchell who emerged from the crumbled wreck to rescue his two younger siblings, flagged down a motorist to get help, then went back to search for his mother — who had been ejected from the car. Once he found her, he gave her CPR — and saved her life.
So when local and Valley firefighters heard the little hero was suffering from nightmares about the December accident on Highway 87, they staged a ceremony to honor the fourth-grader for his life-saving actions.
The remarkable incident unfolded as Amanda Mitchell, 31, was driving with her three children southbound on Highway 87 from their home in Pine three days before Christmas last year. Amanda reportedly lost control of the family’s vehicle, sending the silver SUV down a steep embankment 10 miles north of Payson.
Amanda was ejected from the vehicle and knocked unconscious, leaving the three children inside.
Remarkably, the children suffered only minor injuries.
When the twisted hunk of metal came to a stop on its roof, Bradley crawled out and helped his 7- and 8-year-old siblings escape as well.
Bradley then hiked up the steep hill and flagged down a motorist for help.
The boy looked for his mother and found her entangled in a barbwire fence, unconscious and not breathing, Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi said.
Bradley gave his mother two breaths and she started breathing.
When deMasi asked Bradley where he had learned to do that, Bradley said he had seen it on television.
“For anyone to be that calm in that scenario, especially a 10-year-old, and to know what to do, is just amazing,” he said.
Off-duty Pine-Strawberry firefighter Phil Paine stopped at the wreck before emergency crews arrived and provided aid for Amanda, who had a fractured neck, head injury and serious internal injuries.
Native Air airlifted Mitchell to Scottsdale/Osborne hospital while the children were taken to Payson Regional Medical Center.
“The mother suffered severe injuries and is making, what appears to be a remarkable recovery due in no small part to the actions of this young man,” deMasi said.
Since the wreck, the family has moved in with their grandmother in Mesa.
When Bradley continued to have nightmares about the event, his grandmother approached Mesa Fire and asked for help.
“Mesa determined the grandmother lives in a county island and contacted Rural Metro, who called us,” he said.
On June 14, deMasi presented Bradley with a firefighter’s helmet, while Rural Metro gave him a hat and Mesa Fire, a toy fire truck.
Payson Fire was unaware Bradley had given his mother aid before they arrived because he didn’t say anything about it to firefighters, deMasi said.
“If you met this kid, you would be very impressed,” he said. “He is very calm, humble and he says he just did what he had to do.”
Certainly the other responders, Lifestar Ambulance, Pine-Strawberry Fire, Native Air and Payson Fire crew E121 C-Shift, contributed to the positive outcome of this call, deMasi said.
“Great teamwork by all.”