When 11-year-old Jerald Withers was on his way home on his school bus in Missouri last month, he and his bus driver both saw something on the side of the road, but they were not sure what it was. The bus driver assumed it was a deer—but Withers thought he saw a man lying in the ditch.
“He looked real stiff so I thought he might have died,” Jerald said to KSDK.
Withers went home, and his mom and grandfather automatically knew something was wrong with the boy. “He didn’t want nothing else except to go back and make sure that it was a person there,” Bob Bruenger, Jerald’s grandfather said.
The fifth grader would not give up until he found out if there really was an injured person on the side of the road.
Usually, after school Withers would be spending time doing things he loved. He would be playing basketball, throwing a football around, or playing with his Xbox. But his mind was so focused on what he saw back on the school bus, he couldn’t focus.
He decided to call 911.
“He knew deep down it was something. He went with his instincts,” his mom Brandy Overturf said.
What Withers thought he saw was in fact correct. Police identified the man lying in a ditch under a bridge as Billy McHaan. McHaan had been in a motorcycle accident earlier, and had been lying there ever since.
Withers contacted the police about what he saw lying in the ditch.
Because his bike had cooled off, paramedics explained that they were not sure how long McHaan has been lying out there. But since Withers noticed him, he was able to leave the ditch alive.
“They said he was there for some hours, and if Jerald would not have noticed, he probably would have frozen to death and not made it through the night,” Overturf explained.
His grandfather and mother are both proud of him calling him a “great kid,” and bragging about how “amazing” it is that he spotted McHaan.
“He’s always worried about other people [more] than he is himself,” Bruenger said.
McHaan thanked Jerald for calling 911. Withers wants to meet up with McHaan in the future, so he can express how happy he is that he was able to help him out.
“I would just tell him that I’m thankful that I saw him,” Jerald said. “It’s just crazy to think about that he could have died and that he’s alive right now. It’s really cool.”