Ten-year-old Christopher Wheeler was in a vehicle with his 70 year old neighbor Alfred Smith when the elderly man started having a diabetic episode. Christopher recalled: “He got sick and he was swerving across the road, He started getting sweaty and said he needed a piece of candy.”
The vehicle was all over the road and terrifying Christopher, while the operator became more and more listless until he was unable to operate the vehicle that was still traveling dangerously down the roadway.
Special Agent Eric Salvador with the Attorney General’s Office witnessed the vehicles erratic operation and attempted to stop it however the driver would not pull over. “It almost hit the center wall several times,” Salvador said. The vehicle went into oncoming traffic lanes several times.
It was Christopher who eventually brought the situation under control and saved countless lives. “I didn’t want us to die,” Christopher said. “The police were behind us the whole time with their lights on. I told him to stop, and he kept going. I put my foot on the brake, and I got the steering wheel and pulled it over and put it in park.”
Once the vehicle was stopped State Trooper Salvador ordered the operator to place his hands upon the wheel of the vehicle but he didn’t do so. Yet young Christopher placed the ailing man’s hands on the wheel for him. When the State Trooper ordered the vehicles engine to be shut off, Christopher reached over and turned the ignition switch too. None of the movements were beyond the Troopers sight and he understood that there was a problem. The Trooper approached the vehicle and understood he was dealing with a medical emergency.
“When I approached the vehicle, the child told me that he wanted to go home and stepped out of the vehicle,” Salvador said. “He was terrified.”
Salvador went to his patrol vehicle and returned with emergency food he carries and gave the man something to eat to raise his blood sugar levels.
Senior Trooper Lee Walls also responded to the scene to assist in the aftermath. While waiting for Christopher’s parents to pick him up he took Christopher for something to eat because the young boy was hungry.
Paramedics took the 70 year old Smith to the Hospital for treatment.
Troopers praised the 10 year old to 12 WSFA saying: “Without the heroism of that child, I think they would have crashed off the road or into another vehicle. I think he saved a lot of lives out there,” Salvador said. “I’ve been in law enforcement eight years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Senior Trooper Lee Walls said: “He grabbed the steering wheel and began to tug on the steering wheel and reach over with his left leg to apply the brakes. He was probably the main contributing factor to get the car stopped; he was mature beyond his years.”
On their Facebook Page the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency wrote:
Today around noon, an Investigator with the Attorney General’s Office observed a vehicle weaving excessively on I-65 near exit 181. The Investigator attempted to stop the vehicle which failed to yield. An Alabama State Trooper assisted and the vehicle eventually stopped on AL 14 near Browns Road. The Investigator and Trooper determined that the driver was suffering from a diabetic episode. It was discovered that a 10 year-old child passenger had steered the vehicle to safety and applied the brakes to stop the vehicle. The child’s actions may have saved the driver’s life, his own life and the lives of others on the road at the time. The Trooper gave the driver some food as emergency personnel arrived on scene. The driver was transported to a local hospital. The Trooper took the child, who was hungry, to a local fast food restaurant for a meal as they waited for family members to arrive. Millbrook Police and Fire Rescue assisted with the incident. Great job to all involved!
L to R: Investigator Salvador, the young hero and Trooper Walls.