Jerald Withers is an 11-year-old boy from Festus, Missouri. Like most 5th graders, his days are full of homework, household chores, friends, and rooting for the Green Bay Packers. According to her parents, Jerald is more observant than most other people. His mother says that he differs from other kids his age when it comes to maturity, empathy, and vigilance. There was one day in particular when his attention paid off.
The Bus Ride
Jerald was on his bus one afternoon in November 2017. The ride home from school started like every typical day. The other kids on the bus were talking, laughing, listening to music on their earbuds, and going on about their days. Jerald was sitting quietly on the bus, looking out the window. Rather than being rambunctious, Jerald liked to decompress after a long day at school.
A Strange Scene
When the bus went over the bridge, Jerald noticed something strange. There was a guardrail on the bridge, and there was a big section missing. Jerald thought this was odd, and that something powerful had to have caused that kind of damage. He starred at the break in the guardrail, and beyond it, and noticed something in the distance. He tried to see if better, but the bus drove away before he could see what it was. What he could see was that there were broken parts of machinery on the ground. He knew that something had happened on the bridge, and he was sure that someone needed help.
Telling the Bus Driver
Jerald thought that maybe someone needed help, so he needed to tell someone. He knew that his friend sitting beside him on the bus couldn’t do much. He didn’t even see what Jerald saw, so he decided to tell the bus driver that someone needed help. Unfortunately, the bus driver didn’t see what Jerald saw either. He told Jerald that it must have been a deer in the woods. He told Jerald that he shouldn’t be worry and everything should be fine.
Help At Home
When Jerald got home, he couldn’t put what he had seen out of his mind. He was sure that somebody needed help, but he felt defeated. He sat down on the couch to watch television. When his mother, Brandy Overturf came into the room, she could tell that there was something wrong with Jerald. It was written all over his face. She sat down next to Jerald to talk to him about what was going on. At first, she assumed that he was having a problem with a friend at school, or he got a bad grade on a test.
Confiding In Mom
Jerald was fighting back the tears when he told Brandy what had happened. He told her what he saw on the bus, and that he was sure that somebody was in trouble. He told Brandy that he asked the bus driver to go check it out, but he was sure it was a deer. Jerald told his mother that he was worried that someone was hurt, and he was frustrated that nobody would listen to him. Brandy knew her son well and knew that he wouldn’t make something like this up. Even more, if he wasn’t sure that something was wrong, he wouldn’t be so upset. She knew that she had to do something for her son.
Brandy knew that if there was someone out there who needed help that she wouldn’t be able to help. She decided that the best course of action would be to allow Jerald to call 911. If there were someone out there, they would need help that Brandy couldn’t provide. He called 911 and told the dispatcher what he had seen. The dispatcher told Jerald that they would send the highway patrol out there to check it out.
Missouri State Highway Patrol
When the state troopers got the call, they took it seriously. The dispatcher told the trooper that the caller sounded very distraught, so they were going to check it out. Jerald didn’t know the exact location, but he did know that it was on his bus route home. The troopers drove for a bit when they finally stopped the bridge that Jerald described. When the troopers looked beyond the broken guardrail, they realized that Jerald was right.
A Horrifying Discovery
When the officers went to check out the scene, they found the remains of a totaled motorcycle. The troopers knew that something serious had happened, so they kept looking. Soon, they found a man lying in the ditch barely conscious. He still had his helmet on, but he wasn’t moving. The troopers knew that he was seriously injured. They called the paramedics and got the man some help. The man’s name was Billy McMahan, and he was taken to Mercy Hospital Jefferson. Meanwhile, Jerald and his family were waiting to hear what was happening. Finally, they got the call. The trooper who called told Brandy that the motorcyclist had lost control of his bike, and was laying in the ditch for quite some time. Had Jerald not spoken up when he did, Billy would have died.
When the story got out, Jerald was considered a hero. He became a media sensation, and a stranger gave him tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Jerald says that the tickets and the attention is great, but he is just glad that he was able to help Billy when he really needed it. A boy goes viral after he spots a strange shape under a bridge, and he saved a life.