Ten-year-old Cara Jumper isn’t old enough to drive a car. She isn’t trained to be a lifeguard. And she’s certainly isn’t big enough to drag a 230-pound man through the woods to safety.
But the plucky girl from Swansea, S.C., had to do all three earlier this month in order to save the life of her own grandfather.
“It’s just one those things that’s hard to believe, but it happened, you know?” said her grateful grandpa, Coy Jumper, afterward.
“We’re just thankful everything worked out like it did,” said Coy’s wife, Esca, “and Cara’s adrenaline kicked in and she knew what to do.”
Cara’s herculean heroics began after Coy took his three granddaughters to a family pond about three miles into the woods to check on beaver traps. But all of a sudden, grandpa leaned over and fell into the water. He had suffered a stroke at the edge of the pond.
“I didn’t think much at all,” Cara later told WIS-TV of Columbia, S.C. “I just jumped down in there. It was over Papa’s head, I knew that.”
Forced to shoulder a lifeguard’s duties, Cara kept Coy’s head out of the water, while she dragged him back onshore.
But Coy’s cell phone now rested on the bottom of the pond, leaving Cara and her barely coherent grandfather stranded in the woods, with Coy’s car about quarter of a mile away. Undaunted, she did her best to hold him up, while she pulled, dragged, even carried the 230-pound man to the automobile.
“He’s leaning on me, and I’m basically carrying him,” Cara said. “It was the hardest thing I have ever done.”
But there was no way Coy was going to be able to drive. Once again, it was up to Cara to shoulder a grown-up’s duties.
“Well, it was kinda hard, but I had done it a couple of times before,” said Cara afterward.
Three miles later, after driving through the forest’s back roads, Cara helped guide Coy to his wife and got him sat down at the kitchen table.
WIS-TV reports Coy spent six days in the hospital, where doctors discovered a small aneurysm.
He can’t remember anything except hitting the water. But he knows how close he came to death.
“You just have to have a while to think about it, and it all dawns on you,” said Coy. “I say I owe her my life because I don’t know, I couldn’t have gotten out by myself. Wasn’t no way.”
“Everyone has been calling me a hero,” Cara says now. “I just did what I had to do.”