Action blockbusters aren’t known for being particularly realistic—in the real world, we rarely see people driving expensive sports cars into exploding helicopters.
But one story proves that sometimes movies do get it right after all—and that heroes come in all sizes.
While their mother was at work, 10-year-old Jacob O’Connor and his two younger brothers were spending the afternoon at their grandmother’s house in Roseville, Michigan. It had been a normal, relaxing day—Jacob was settling in to watch cartoons, while his two-year-old brother, Dylan, was about to be put down for a nap.
But suddenly, Jacob noticed Dylan was gone—and he had managed to open the sliding back door.
“I was turning on a show then a minute later the doors were open,” he told WXYZ.
When Jacob went to get his brother in the backyard, he noticed the toddler’s shoe bobbing in the water.
Then he saw something horrifying: his brother, face-down, in the water, unconscious.
But miraculously, Jacob knew just how to respond to save the drowning victim.
“I pulled him out and started giving him compressions,” Jacob told WXYZ.
Jacob knew what to look for and kept pushing his brother’s chest until his heart resumed beating—and he “vomited a little water,” Jacob told the Washington Post.
He then ran to tell his grandmother, and Dylan was rushed to the hospital.
“I looked in his eyes and his eyes were up in his head and not focused and that’s what really scared me,” grandmother Ellen Vial recalled to WXYZ.
Their mother, Christa O’Connor, got word and rushed to the hospital from work. She was terrified, but when she arrived, he was in stable condition—hooked up to oxygen and IVs—but alive, thanks to the quick thinking of her 10-year-old.
When she stopped at home later that day, she sat down with Jacob and asked just how he knew what to do.
“I saw it in a movie,” she recalled him saying.
“What movie?” she asked.
“San Andreas,” Jacob replied. “With the Rock.”
Yes, it turns out Jacob had learned the life-saving maneuver from his favorite movie: the 2015 action blockbuster San Andreas, which has a scene where his hero, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, performs CPR.
“There was an earthquake, then it caused a tsunami and then there was a daughter that was drowning and he had to get her out and he did the same thing,” he explained to WXYZ.
Jacob had watched the film only a few days before the incident, so the scene was fresh in his mind.
“The movie just popped up in my head and I started thinking about that scene,” Jacob told The Washington Post. “And that’s when I started doing the compressions.”
Thanks to Jacob (with a little help from The Rock), Dylan only spent one night in the hospital—and, according to WXYZ, the two-year-old was so unfazed by the near-drowning, he asked if he could go in his grandmother’s pool the very next day.
Jacob doesn’t think he did anything special—but his mother disagrees.
“I told Jacob he’s a hero,” O’Connor told The Detroit Free Press. “We sat and talked after it happened and I told him people would see him as a hero and that’s what he is. I just hugged him and squeezed him after I found out what he did.”
But for Jacob, the biggest honor came later after the story broke:
The Rock heard the story and called Jacob a hero on Twitter.
The movie star praised the heroics of his biggest fan to his nearly 12 million Twitter followers. And if that’s not awesome enough, Jacob’s family has been contacting the star, hoping to set up a chance to meet in person.
But in the meantime, Jacob will keep watching his movies—and his mother has no complaints, now that she knows what they’re teaching him.
“He can watch any Rock movie he wants,” O’Connor told the Detroit Free Press.