By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY March 21, 2003 Benjamin Davis has been practicing for one moment all his life.
The 9-year-old started doing emergency drills with his dad, Bernard, and mom, Irene, when he was still in pre-school.
And last month, all his practicing paid off.
The youngest Davis had been out with his dad running errands on the morning of February 22. When they got home, Bernard wanted to get something out of the back of his truck, but he realized he was too close to the garage to open the tailgate.
So the Woodridge resident hopped back into his blue pickup truck and rolled the vehicle forward. He thought he put it in park he swears he did.
But no sooner had Bernard climbed out and gotten back to the tailgate when the truck started rolling right for him.
The pickup pinned Bernard to a wall, and he was absolutely helpless.
But then someone came to his rescue. Not the first aid squad they came, but they werent the first responders.
Young Benjamin Davis clambered up into the drivers seat of his dads truck. Hed been watching him drive it for years.
The third grader slid the truck into the right gear and drove it 10 feet forward, stopping and carefully putting it into park before grabbing the keys and running inside, headed for the phone.
Bernard Davis doesnt remember much about that moment.
I was hurt, and when he walked away from me, I didnt know where he was going, he recalled.
But the youngster knew exactly what to do. He got on the phone and dialed 911, telling the dispatcher every last detail from the accident to the street address, color of his home and even the color of the truck to use as a landmark.
Ben stayed very calm after his dad screamed for help, said Karen Commins, captain of the Mountaindale First Aid Squad. He never got excited.
And even though it was very difficult for Ben not to call his family first, he did the right thing by calling 911.
It wasnt until after hed made the emergency call and gotten his father as comfortable as possible that Ben returned to the house and called Irene and asked his older sister, Kristi, to come over and babysit.
Today Bernard Davis is doing well. Hes going to physical therapy and slowly recuperating.
I have my good days and my bad days, he said. But Im just so proud of what he did.
You dont expect a child of his age to do what he did I was helpless.
The Mountaindale First Aid Squad was on hand at Benjamins school, St. Peters Regional Catholic in Liberty, Tuesday to hand out their Young Heroes Award to the 9-year-old. And Sullivan County Legislature Chair Leni Binder, a representative of the familys district, also stopped by to award him a plaque on behalf of the entire Legislature.
He deserved the award, Commins said, and hopefully the school assembly will drive home the importance of emergency drills and using 911 to the other youngsters in the school.
It was, after all, those drills that prepared Benjamin to be a true hero.
When we did the drills, he told me to stay calm in any situation, Benjamin recalls. It was scary, but I had to be very calm.
So what does he do when hes not saving lives?
Benjamin loves school hes in Mrs. Butterfields third grade class and he loves sports, especially football and soccer.