Prescott resident Don Mapes credits his grandnephews, Patrick and Wyatt Eyler, for saving his life when the 1952 MG TD he has been working to restore collapsed, pinning him under the car.
Working to get the vehicle done before his 50-year high school reunion in October, Mapes said the boys have been working with him in his warehouse and on Friday, July 14, they were bleeding the brakes. He said the vehicle had been fairly secure for a month, but Wyatt said he didn’t feel good when his granduncle went under the car.
“It didn’t seem real safe to me,” he said, adding it “felt like something was going to happen.”
It was a “perfect storm,” Mapes said, remarking the platform hoist came down, the chain rolled out from the hook on the engine hoist and it threw the platform out from behind the car jack.
When it happened, Wyatt, 10, said he was shocked. Patrick, who is 11 years old, mentioned he was frozen, and when he actually knew what happened he wanted to freak out but didn’t.
Instead, the boys, who live in Prescott Valley, tried to push the car off of Mapes, which didn’t work because “the car weighs maybe about 1,000 pounds,” Patrick said.
When the car fell on top of Mapes, it was extremely difficult to breathe because his right arm was trapped across his chest, he said. Once he was able to get his right arm free, it took a lot of pressure off and he could get enough air and guide the boys to be able to lift the car off of him with a jack, he said.
Patrick said lifting the car with the jack wasn’t very difficult, which surprised him because of the car’s weight. When they did, Mapes said he was able to slide out and get on his feet with no broken bones and no serious injuries.
However, had Patrick and Wyatt not been there, Mapes said he would have died.
“Without question, they saved my life,” he said. “Had no one been there, even after getting my arm out … there’s no way I could have gotten out.”
The boys were honored on Monday, July 31, at an informal ceremony at Prescott Fire Station 75 by the crew that responded to the call. They were presented with lifesaving awards and treated to a ride in a fire engine and ice cream.
First-responders said the man was conscious and alert when they arrived and that he was transported to the hospital in stable condition. “If it weren’t for the quick thinking of these two young boys, the outcome could have been much worse,” one of the fire crew said, according to a news release.
Lalaine Eyler, the boys’ mother, said she is very proud of her sons and how they stayed cool and calm the whole time, noting she was there when it happened and was on the phone with 911 while they lifted the car off her uncle.
When the paramedics first got there, Patrick said he didn’t think they’d believe the two of them were able to lift the car off of their granduncle.
“They don’t usually see kids doing that kind of stuff,” he said.
Wyatt and Patrick both say they enjoy spending time with their granduncle and restoring the car with him. The two of them added that they plan to voice their concerns better the next time they have a bad feeling.
At the same time, Mapes said he has no fear about putting the car back up and plans to block the platform jack using shackles to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He also enjoys working on the car with his grandnephews, he said.
“They’re anxious to help me,” Mapes said. “We’ll definitely be working on it together more.”