Burly Gene Terres is like an adoptive grandparent to eight-year old Johnathan Carpenter. Carpenter would help the 74-year old mow grass, bush hog, rake leaves, paint, and cut down trees.
Last Monday, Carpenter helped Terres with a different task â€” saving Terresâ€™ life.
Carpenter had come home from school that afternoon like normal. He did his homework, then went over to see if Terres needed any help. Terres said he was just going to work on the tractor.
Carpenter came back later that afternoon.
â€œI walked across the road,â€ he said, â€œand he was laid out and he said he would get up later.â€
Carpenter immediately ran across the road and yelled for his sister to call the paramedics. Then he went back to Terres. The tractor had crashed into the building and was still running. Carpenter moved the tractor away and turned it off.
Since the Carpenters have a Lincolnton address but are under the Gastonia EMS area, they were switched back and forth between the Lincolnton and Gastonia emergency services.
Annette Carpenter, Johnathanâ€™s mother, knew the direct number for the Lincolnton dispatch and called that instead.
The South Fork Fire Department was there first. According to Lt. Thomas Raper, Terres was disoriented but awake.
â€œI asked all the questions youâ€™re supposed to ask,â€ said Raper. â€œWhat is the date? Who is the President of the United States? And he didnâ€™t know any of them.â€
Terres continued to deteriorate and still the ambulance had not arrived. Raper called the local dispatch and found out a deer had hit the ambulance on the way to the scene.
The whole time, Carpenter never left Terresâ€™ side. He was holding Terresâ€™ hand and trying to keep him awake.
When the ambulance finally got there and began to work on Terres, Carpenter was putting the tractor in the building and making sure everything was locked up.
â€œFor an eight-year old, he was staying calm when others would panic,â€ said his mother.
The immediate worry over Terresâ€™ condition was whether he had suffered a heart attack. His condition was later diagnosed as a combination of heat exhaustion, dehydration, and fumes from the tractor. Terres probably saved his life by turning off the tractor.
â€œJohnathan was brave,â€ said Terresâ€™ daughter Leslie Terres. â€œNot that many eight-year olds would have known to go turn off the tractor and get him out of the shed. Weâ€™re just thankful he came when he did.â€
â€œWe all at the fire department are very proud of him,â€ said Raper.
â€œTerres has lived in the neighborhood for years and would never let any of the kids drive that tractor,â€ said Carpentersâ€™ mother. â€œHeâ€™s not like most kids. They would be popping wheelies and donuts. But Terres let Johnathan ride the tractor and said â€˜That kid knows how to drive a tractor.â€™â€
The next morning, Carpenter woke up and said â€œOh no, Iâ€™ve got a vocabulary test I didnâ€™t study for.â€ But the first thing he did was ask his mother to call to see how Terres was doing.
by Caleb Hawkins