Video-game playing, 10-year-old Gryffin Sanders is the newest member of America’s “hero” club.
In the summer of “Iron Man 3″ and “Man of Steel,” this youngster has achieved national attention for his surprising action that likely saved not only his life, but also the lives of his great-grandmother and four-year-old brother.
According to Denver’s KUSA-TV, the boys were riding with their great-grandmother Darlene Nestor – who they call “Grandma Great” – down a Colorado highway July 26, when the woman suddenly passed out behind the wheel.
From the passenger seat, Sanders realized their vehicle was drifting into oncoming traffic, and with his grandmother’s foot resting on the gas pedal, the car was still racing down the highway at 60 miles per hour.
“Grandma Great was talking about some of the wildlife and stuff about the Great Plains when she passed out in the middle of a sentence,” Sanders told ABCNews.com.
“I tried to wake her up at first,” Sanders said, but she wouldn’t stir, and the oncoming cars were getting closer.
The boy then decided he had to grab the wheel.
“I could see over the dashboard while I was driving, so I had an idea of where I was driving into. I couldn’t get to the brakes because my grandma great was in the way,” said Sanders. “Then, I just took the wheel and drove it into the ditch.”
The move jostled Nestor’s foot from the accelerator, and their car slowed to a harmless stop in the muddy ditch.
Sanders then turned around to the back seat, where his younger brother was happily playing on an iPad, oblivious that his older brother may have just saved his life.
His father, Sean Sanders, calls him a hero.
“It was all him, and he made a very wide decision at a very critical moment,” Sean told KUSA-TV, “and I couldn’t be a prouder father.”
Sanders told ABC he credits his ability to take over the wheel and steer safely to the hours he’s spent playing the video game “Mario Kart” and his hobbies of driving ATVs.
“And, I’m pretty good at go-kart driving,” Sanders said.
“My mom actually told me after, ‘I’m so glad that you turned into the ditch,’” he said. “I guess I just had the instincts not to [freak out].”
The boys’ father was grateful they escaped a possible head-on collision or roll-over.
“There could’ve been, you know, a travesty of an injury or even possibly a fatality,” he said. “The good news is we will never have to know.”
Passersby eventually saw the vehicle and stopped to call 911. Nestor was then airlifted to a medical facility, where she’s recovering from what doctors believe may have been a heart attack.
Today, Nestor brags about her great-grandson.
“I’m so proud of him that he saved so many lives that day even in oncoming traffic,” she said. “He’s always been a great kid.”
She added, “All my great-grandkids and grandkids are great.”
Incidentally the sheriff’s deputy who responded to the call and arrived first on the scene was Gryffin’s cousin. He awarded the youngster a medal for his bravery.
“The proudest moment I think of this is he’s been so humble about it,” Sanders’ father beamed. “There’s nothing more I could ask of him.”