TWIN FALLS — Mike Coonce was late for his son’s baseball game. It was a June evening and he was driving west on Poleline Road in Twin Falls when he noticed a child darting across the busy road.
What Coonce did next likely saved a toddler from being seriously harmed or killed. Coonce’s story was shared Thursday during a luncheon at the Waterfront in Idaho Falls as he was named one of 11 “East Idaho Real Heroes” by the American Red Cross of Idaho.
“As I was driving, I could see his little feet between the traffic and it was nerve-racking,” Coonce recalls. “I could see two little legs running back and forth.”
That child was Chance McGrath, a 4-year-old who had been riding a bike near his home when he walked away and ended up lost along on the 60 mph road.
Coonce immediately swung his truck around and cornered Chance on the side of the street.
“I kind of pushed him off into the borrow pit where I could get into a safe spot and I jumped out and grabbed him,” Coonce tells EastIdahoNews.com. “He was crying and in tears calling for his parents.”
Coonce put Chance in his truck with him and began to dial 911. That’s when he saw a patrol car and flagged the deputy down who, at that very moment, was out looking for Chance.
“He came up to me and called the child by name. He knew exactly what was going on,” Coonce says.
Chance’s parents had been frantically searching for their son who had been gone over an hour. The deputy took Chance home and Coonce went to the baseball game.
A few days later, the young boy’s father showed up to visit Coonce while he was at work.
“I didn’t know who he was and he looked at me and started crying,” Coonce says. “He gave me a hug and I kind of knew what it was about. He was so thankful and appreciative.”
In July, Coonce, a father of three children, was honored by the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office for saving the child. He says the award from the American Red Cross is nice but believes he didn’t do anything special and is glad Chance is ok.
“I did out of the kindness of my heart and what I think everybody would do,” Coonce says.