March 26, 2010 in City

Spokane boy, 8, heralded for helping save mother’s life

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Jason Graham is being heralded as a hero for helping his mother Beverly Graham when she was trapped under the family van on Jan. 22 on Spokane’s South Hill.
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Jason Graham may only be 8 years old, but he’s good in a crisis. The second-grader’s quick thinking saved his mother’s life when she was pinned under their van.

“The car was dragging my mom, I jumped in there and turned the key and the motor turned off immediately,” Jason said. “Her shirt was choking her to death, so I loosened it. She told me to go call 911, and I took two steps, there was a woman already calling.”

Jason was honored Thursday by Spokane’s police chief and several special guests in front of his Roosevelt Elementary schoolmates for saving Beverly Graham’s life. He received the Chief’s Citation Award, the highest award given to a civilian by the Spokane Police Department.

“What I did got me this award,” he said Thursday. “But all I was trying to do was help my mom.”

“You deserve to be recognized for your life-saving actions,” Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said as she presented the award.

Jason’s heroic actions occurred Jan. 22 when his mom took him for a haircut. Beverly Graham had parked at Great Clips on 30th Avenue and Grand Boulevard when she noticed the van’s tires were on a curb. The 52-year-old got partway into the van to move it. She started it up, and as it rolled, she was pulled down and pinned underneath the vehicle.

“My ribs cracked like a bag of potato chips,” Beverly Graham said. Her coat and shirt became entangled in the wheels.

Jason reacted quickly. “I’ve seen a few shows where someone got ran over. That’s how I knew to turn the car off,” he said. “The only way I knew to take the key out, was because I’ve seen my mom do it so many times.”

Jason managed to remain calm initially. “When I started thinking, oh my gosh, I went into my happy place – playing my DS (portable video game).”

But afterward, Jason, then 7, admitted he was pretty shook up: “I went through about five whole boxes of Kleenexes.”

Beverly Graham’s injuries were life-threatening, authorities said. The right side of her rib cage was crushed, a lung was punctured and one heel was nearly torn off.

Spokane police Officer Bonnie Sherar investigated the accident. On Thursday, she said: “For a 7-year-old to have that much wherewithal is amazing. I’ve seen adults who don’t react that fast.”

Jason’s natural instincts could serve him well. He wants to be a Marine and a police officer when he grows up.

Beverly Graham is still recovering from her injuries. She was at Jason’s school Thursday for the awards presentation.

“We’ve always known Jason was a special boy,” she said. “This just proves it.”

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