Boy awarded for courage shown in crash
By Wes Wade | (email@example.com)
Dakota Chapman had no idea what to think when his mother said they were going out Tuesday evening.
The accident that had happened to them nearly three weeks prior was probably nowhere on his mind during the car ride to the Blount County Rescue Squad.
But soon after he and his family entered the building, the 11-year-old was presented with a heroism award for the bravery he showed in that Sept. 29 car accident.
April Chapman, Dakota’s mother, explained that she, Dakota, his 3-year-old brother Aaron and 6-year-old cousin Emily Schultz were on their way home when a minivan struck the drivers side of her Ford Focus.
The vehicle went into a ditch and April Chapman was unable to get her door open. That’s when she said Dakota, who had been asleep prior to the crash, sprang into action.
“Dakota had got out and he had got Emily out of the back because there was smoke coming from the back (of the vehicle),” she said. “And while he was doing that, I went to get (Aaron) out of the car seat and I felt smothered, like my chest, it was hurting.”
Chapman said her sternum and rib cage were injured and that she began to cry and scream. But Dakota remained calm, telling his mother that a retired firefighter and his wife had arrived at the scene to help.
He told his mom to give Aaron to them and then returned to the car to retrieve his mother’s cell phone and made to calls to family members on her behalf.
She said when Dakota rode in the ambulance with his little brother, he knew exactly what to tell the paramedics about his medical history.
“He did very well, I’m very proud of him,” April Chapman said, adding that it was the first time any of the four had been involved in a car wreck.
Julie Schultz, April Chapman’s sister and Emily Schultz’s mother, said she was also very surprised by Dakota’s actions.
“(Emily) really looks up to Dakota, and the fact that he could stay so calm helped her not freak out so much,” Schultz said.
She said even at the hospital, Dakota was in control. He told his aunt that he and his brother had been treated and released and asked her to tell his mother. He then kept asking if his cousin was OK, she said.
Blount County Rescue Squad Chief Keith Sartin, who was at the scene of the crash, thanked Dakota for his help and even told him he was welcome to join the squad’s Junior Explorers group when he turns 14.
“Dakota, thank you,” Sartin said. “You were a big guy that day ... you did a good job and keep it up, I’ve got a place for you when you get older.”