Grand Falls-Windsor man credits his life to his six-year-old grandson
© Krysta Colbourne photo
Walter Small says he owes his life to his six-year-old grandson, Bradley Reid, after an ATV incident on June 16 that left him trapped under the ATV, which they posed for a picture on here, for almost 24 hours.
All 38 pounds and four-foot-three-inches of Bradley Reid is a hero.
"I stayed by Poppy until the ambulance came," Bradley said. “I helped Poppy. I flicked flies off of him.”
On June 15, the six-year-old and his grandfather, Walter Small, went to their cabin approximately four kilometres outside of Red Cliff, like many times before. Before leaving, Small told his wife, Barb, they would be back to their home in Grand Falls-Windsor home on Sunday.
They spent the day, and part of the next, fishing trout.
The warm temperatures and sun was a little too much for the young Grand Falls-Windsor boy, so he asked his grandfather to take him for a ride on ATV - again, a regular routine for the duo.
"He said 'Pop, I'm too hot, so give me a ride on the quad,’" Small said.
At 2:55 p.m., on Saturday, June 16, the two put on their helmets and went for a ride - never expecting how things can change in a split second.
“We went across the bog and then you hit the main road; then that goes out to the main road that comes out from Red Cliff,” Small said. “On our way out he saw something and he said 'Pop, pop.' So I turned around and said 'what's wrong.' And when I turned around again (the ATV) hit a rut in the road and headed for the woods before I got a chance to turn. I flicked him off and the bike went over.”
Small said Bradley laughed at the whole situation because he didn’t realize anything was wrong.
“He just thought it was a bit of fun,” Small said. “He said 'Pop, do it again.’ Then I said ‘I don't think so, because we're stuck.’ He said ‘we'll get the bike out of it.’ I said ‘I don't think so.’ He didn't know I was hurt.
“Then he walked over and he looked and said ‘what's wrong with your leg?’ I said ‘I can't move.’ He said ‘I'll push the bike off you.’ So he rattled the bike. He said ‘Pop, I'll go get help.’”
After his grandfather gave him clear directions as to where to go - a quarter mile to the main road to Red Cliff - Bradley headed off.
“I watched him for about 1,000 feet and he turned around and came back,” Small said. “He said ‘Pop I can't do it. I'm afraid. It's too far.’
"I said, ‘that's alright, at least you tried.’”
Bradley sat next to his grandfather in the alders, surrounded by flies, sun pounding.
"I was thirsty, and he said ‘I can't get you water, I can't get anything, I can't go anywhere,’” Small said. “So he sat down beside me and kept the flies off me, and flicked ants off me.”
Small said he couldn’t move, the quad was snagged in the alders and he had to keep his hands on the handlebars to keep the quad from coming down on top of him.
When asked why he stayed with his Pop, Bradley’s explanation was simple.
“Because I don't want to leave him.”
In reality, Bradley would have had to walk a mile to get help.
“He tried but he never had a chance and it was absolutely scorching hot,” Small said.
Eight hours later, the sun went down, and the air cooled, but not for long.
“Then it turned cold Saturday night,” Small said. “I had one arm I could move so I took off my oil coat and hauled it down over him so he wouldn't get cold and hauled the hood up over him.”
Bradley slept on his Pop all night.
Sunday morning, Small heard someone travelling on the road.
A truck was coming. He asked his grandson to move by the alders and stop the truck.
“When he got out there I said 'don't get right out on the road because he will run you over,’” Small said. “So he reached out over the alders and wove to the truck...and buddy passed him.
“We were stuck from 6 p.m. (Saturday) evening until 7:30 the next night when I heard rocks moving again. I passed out three or four times and he was patting me on the head ‘wake up Poppy, wake up, don't go to sleep.’
“My lips were all swelled up, and my eyes. It was hard to talk right and I was trying to keep (Bradley) calm.”
And to add to the situation, gas had leaked out of the ATV, and was covering his head, face, neck and running down his trapped leg, Small said.
The sun continued to burn.
Late Sunday evening, Bradley told his grandfather he heard something.
Bradley carefully went out onto the road, and stopped a truck.
He told the two men, who Small said are from Grand Falls-Windsor but he is unsure who they are, that his poppy was under the quad and hurt bad.
“The two of them ran up through the alders, lifted up the bike and got my leg out from under the bike, and (Bradley) was crying he was that happy,” Small said. “He said ‘Don't hurt my Pop.’”
“The men helped him,” Bradley said. “They picked the quad up.
“They wouldn't touch me because my leg was all over to one side, all hooked in, blood everywhere...my foot and leg were swollen like a football,” Small described.
The men phoned the paramedics, who took them to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Barb Small was starting to worry. She was expecting her husband and grandson back at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
“I got a call from the paramedics at 6:45 saying they had my husband and my grandson,” she said. “So I got ready and went to the hospital.”
After no food or water for 22-24 hours, and stuck in the hot sun, there is a happy ending to what could have been a tragic story.
Though his lips and eyes were swollen as well, after a check-up, Bradley was released from the hospital that night.
“They took really good care of him,” Small said, adding he was admitted to the hospital where he stayed for a day and a half due to major hydration and damage to the tissues in his leg and foot from the 1,000-1,500 pound ATV trapping it for so long.
“In my leg, nothing got broken, miraculously,” he said.
Small says he owes his life to Bradley.
“Without him…I would have never done it. He kept me alive.”
Bradley, who was heading into his last week in Kindergarten at Sprucewood Academy when the incident occurred, says he wasn't scared, or cold, but he was hungry.
But it’s something Small said he will remember forever.
“I'll never forget it, not in my lifetime. Screaming in the woods for help hour after hour, screaming for help, hoping someone will hear you on the other road.”
He said he would not be alive today if not for his grandson.
“He was a trooper, and he was trained for the woods, so I was lucky.”