Fruita boy, 8, recounts drive that turned scary—almost

Dillon Earl said his thoughts were “I need to get this taken care of” when his grandmother suffered a seizure at the wheel as they traveled to church Sunday.

It was a drive to church that an 8-year-old Fruita boy and his grandmother won’t soon forget.

Dillon Earl, a second-grader at Shelledy Elementary School, was on his way to Fellowship Church in Grand Junction on Sunday when his grandmother, Lisa DeKruger, had a seizure while driving the two to morning services. She’d had stress-induced seizures before, but not in months, and never while driving.

Dillon grabbed the steering wheel and guided the truck onto the side of the road, saving his life, his grandma’s life and possibly the lives of others on that stretch of Interstate 70 near the 24 Road exit.

Dillon and his grandmother have always been close, DeKruger said Monday. Staying close may well have proved beneficial a day earlier.

DeKruger said Dillon has a habit of sitting right next to her in her truck when they travel together, rather than spreading out in the passenger’s seat.

His closeness to the steering wheel and brake Sunday morning helped the boy act quickly and reach the truck’s brake with his foot, no easy task for someone a hair taller than 4 feet.

After school Monday, Dillon described bringing the truck to a standstill on the side of the interstate with little hint of how amazing his performance was. He’d seen his grandmother have a seizure before,  he said, and knew immediately what was happening to her.

“I was just like ‘I need to get this taken care of,’ ” he said.

Another driver helped moved the truck onto the exit ramp and called 911. DeKruger said she doesn’t remember the seizure, but was told later by a paramedic that Dillon was picking grass nonchalantly when help arrived.

“It’s amazing what he did,” she said. “I do believe God’s hand was in it.”

DeKruger said it took some time for the boldness of Dillon’s actions to sink in. Now that he’s all over the news, that’s changed.

“I guess Grandma owes you lots of candy for the rest of your life,” DeKruger told Dillon during a break outside of her workplace Monday evening.

Dillon’s father, Justin Earl, is similarly proud of his youngest son.

“He’s smart. I’m surprised but I’m not surprised” he did what he did, Earl said.

As for Dillon’s take on being a hero?

“I feel good about it. I’m happy I’m alive,” he said.


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