EDITOR’S NOTE: EastIdahoNews.com is teaming up with the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho to honor ordinary individuals who have done extraordinary things to help others.
The 11 winners of the 2017 East Idaho Real Heroes awards were announced March 2. Each day EastIdahoNews.com will feature a different winner.
SUGAR CITY — An 8-year-old boy was honored Thursday for saving his father’s life after a car they were working on fell and crushed the man’s body.
J.T. Parker, his 17-year-old brother, Mason, and their father, Stephen Parker, were in the backyard of their Sugar City home when the accident happened July 30.
“We were pulling the engine out of the car, and after we got it jacked up, I climbed under there to take the axles off,” Stephen recalls. “The one axle came off pretty easily, but the other side wasn’t coming off.”
Stephen went to adjust the axle and move the jack but suddenly, the Toyota Prius fell on him.
Mason had gone inside the house minutes earlier after cutting his hand, and the only person around was J.T.
“I yelled to J.T. on the other side of the car, ‘Jack it up quick! Jack it up quick!'” Stephen tells EastIdahoNews.com. “I couldn’t move at all. I was totally trapped, and then I passed out. It was all in his hands, and I thought, ‘This is it. There’s no way he can jack up this car because it took my 17-year-old son and I both to jack it up the first time.”
J.T., who weighs about 50 pounds, adjusted the jack and immediately started jumping up and down on the handle.
“It was scary, and I didn’t think that I could jack the car up, but I just kept on trying,” J.T. recalls.
For 15 minutes, he continually jumped on the jack handle as the car slowly raised off of his father.
Stephen says he can’t remember any of it.
“All I remember is I felt peace,” Stephen says. “I remember seeing white, like a nice happy day. The clouds were going by, and everything was happy and peaceful.”
After the car was off his dad, J.T. ran to get Mason, who called 911.
In the 911 call recording, obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Mason forcefully tells his father that he needs to keep breathing.
“I know it hurts but you gotta do it,” Mason says. “Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!”
“I can’t,” Stephen responds.
LISTEN | ENTIRE 911 CALL
As Stephen, Mason and J.T. waited for emergency responders, Stephen’s wife, Jodi, arrived home.
“When I got there, I saw my husband underneath a car,” Jodi says. “My heart just sank, and I didn’t know what to expect.”
A medical helicopter landed in the Parkers’ yard, and Stephen was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
“They did a bunch of scans on me, MRIs and EKGs, and all they found was 13 broken ribs,” Stephen says. “That’s all they found. Nothing internal was damaged. It was just a miracle.”
Two days later, Stephen went home.
A week later, J.T.’s parents recorded a video as they asked their son to jack up the heavy car again.
He couldn’t do it.
When asked why he thinks he could do it the day his father was trapped and where his strength came from, J.T. simply responds, “Angels.”
“We believe my grandpa, who passed on, and my sister who died were helping him,” Stephen says.
The American Red Cross of Greater Idaho selected J.T. as one of 11 “East Idaho Real Heroes” for 2017.
During a luncheon Thursday, J.T. received a standing ovation as he walked to the stage to accept the award. He didn’t say much – just smiled and then sat back down with his family.
“This whole thing is a miracle. There’s no other way to describe it,” Jodi says. “There’s no way that little boy could have done that. I just felt that it was a responsibility we now have to tell people that miracles still exist.”
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com
Gisela Crespo, CNN