Hank Emmel, 10, and his sister, Angeline Emmel, 14, may be young but they knew they had to act fast when they saw their grandfather get hurt in a grim tractor accident on their farm in Joppa last week.
It was their quick call for help that got the 71-year-old man flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and, ultimately, saved his life.
Hank Emmel was helping his grandfather, George "Jerry" Emmel III, plant cantaloupes June 25, in the 2600 block of Old Joppa Road, when something went wrong with the tractor.
When Jerry Emmel parked the Ford 5000 tractor and went under it to investigate, "the tractor went into gear and ran over top of him," Margaret Bullock, Emmel's his former wife, explained.
Hank Emmel ran from the field to the house and told his sister to call 911, which she did, Bullock said.
Jerry Emmel suffered three fractures to the face and spent eight hours in surgery for a fractured pelvis. He also needed a blood transfusion, Bullock said.
He was originally in critical condition for shock trauma, according to Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, which also reported he had several broken ribs.
He was finally moved from intensive care to intermediate care Sunday, she said.
"We are hoping he will get into rehab," she said, adding he has been a firefighter for 54 years and a vegetable farmer for 14 years.
"He is pretty strong; he is a pretty good fighter," said Bullock, who remains friendly with her ex-husband.
Bullock said the whole Emmel family is involved with the Joppa-Magnolia Fire Company and noted the children have learned how to help people in a variety of places.
"They are both in 4-H and they go to Harford County Public Schools and I am sure there's a lot of training through the school, and with all of us being in Joppa-Magnolia," she said. "The fire department is trying to set them up to be honored."
Bullock, who is the chaplain for Joppa-Magnolia VFC, said it was just fortunate the grandchildren were on hand.
"Truthfully, he wouldn't have made it if they hadn't been there this summer," she said.
Standing near the field on Monday, Hank Emmel explained they were laying black plastic for mulch when one of the tractor tires went flat.
When he saw the tractor run over his grandfather, "I asked some questions," Hank Emmel said. "When he stopped talking, I ran in the house."
"I was nervous, scared and sad," he recalled.
Both he and his sister said they just did what they knew they had to do.
Hank Emmel said he feels "good" about knowing he helped save his grandfather's life.
Their father, George Emmel, pointed out they were the only ones home, so no one else could have helped.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun