Greenville County teacher and student help save a life
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Divine providence put Keller Sutherland in her car at the same time a 7-year-old boy was pedaling his bike down U.S. 25 — that’s how Sutherland explained that day in hindsight.
Sutherland, a first-grade teacher at Ellen Woodside Elementary School, said she had left early after a rough day at work.
“I was beating myself up about some things, felt like I wasn’t making a difference,” she said.
Her typical Wednesday afternoon meetings had been canceled, so she planned to rest at home for a few hours before going to church.
She was about a mile away from school when she glanced over and saw a small child riding his bike in the roadway with no helmet on.
Sutherland was concerned. There was no median or shoulder, and vehicles were passing by but not slowing down.
“I turned my car around pretty much immediately after I passed him,” she said.
That’s when Sutherland recognized the boy as one of her former students, Cameron.
She remembered Cameron as a good student who always did what he was told. He wasn’t the kind of child who would leave his house riding his bike in heavy traffic.
So Sutherland rolled down her car window and asked Cameron what he was doing.
“He couldn’t really tell me too much, but he said he was going to grandma’s,” Sutherland said.
She asked Cameron if his dad knew where he was, and Cameron said no — another red flag.
“I said, ‘Cameron tell me what’s going on at the house.’ And he said, ‘My dad’s diabetic. Sometimes he has episodes, and when he does he loses brain function.’”
It turned out Sutherland’s former student had tried to call 911 when his dad lost consciousness but he didn’t know how to unlock security settings on the cellphone. He tried going to his neighbors, but they weren’t home. Finally, he decided to go to his grandmother’s house, which was about five miles away. It seemed like the only thing left to do, he said in an interview recorded by school district officials.
“My dad got sick, so I went to go get help,” Cameron said. “My teacher showed up, and she saw me.”
Sutherland said Cameron appeared calm and wasn’t crying.
“He was the bravest little boy I have ever seen,” she said.
Two truckers had also pulled over at that point, and they called 911. Eventually, Sutherland got first-responders to follow her as Cameron told her where to go.
They found Cameron’s father sprawled out in the bathroom and barely conscious.
He was treated at the scene by EMS and turned out to be okay, Sutherland said.
Inspired by Cameron’s journey, Ellen Woodside Principal Shawn McCain said the school will be showing every one of its students how to make an emergency call on different kinds of phones.
“Cameron was doing exactly what he was taught” McCain said, but he didn’t know how to unlock his dad’s phone.
Sutherland said the real hero of the day is Cameron. He remained calm, even when he was scared, and tried to do the right thing to save his dad.
“God just showed up in an amazing way,” Sutherland said. “On a day when I felt I wasn’t making an impact, He just intervened and placed me where I needed to be for Cameron.”
Information from: The Greenville News, http://www.greenvillenews.com