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Grandfather dies protecting 13-year-old grandson in 150-foot crash down mountain

Grandfather dies protecting 13-year-old grandson in 150-foot crash down mountain
Posted at 1:17 AM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-25 22:16:15-04

EDMOND, OK (KFOR/CNN) - An Oklahoma grandfather is being remembered by his family as a hero for wrapping his arms around his grandson to protect him as the two rolled 150 feet down a mountain in a deadly car crash.

Jerry Greenough, 63, made the same camping trip up a mountain in Red River, NM, for about 20 years, but this September was the first time his twin 13-year-old grandsons got to go with him.

The drive up was uneventful, and the three, joined by the boys' father, camped on top of the mountain Sept. 1.

But on the way back down the next day, tragedy struck.

"I never expected this to happen. This is like – I still question. I don't understand it. Daddy knew that trail," said Amanda Kerley, Greenough’s daughter and the boys' mother.

Greenough and one of his grandsons, Austyn Kerley, were in one Jeep, while the 13-year-old's father and brother led the way in another Jeep.

"We got stuck on a rock, and so, my Papa tried to floor the Jeep to get it to go over the rock, and the rock slid out and then we just rolled down the hill," Austyn said.

The Jeep rolled 150 feet down the side of the mountain before stopping.

The Kerley family says Greenough wrapped his arms around Austyn in the car, protecting him during the crash.

"My dad grabbed a hold of him and just cocooned him, just totally protected him from as much as he could as the Jeep rolled down," Kerley said.

Austyn remembers the loving gesture.

"I remember his arms around me because I held onto his right sleeve all the way down until he let go of me and I lost grip and flew out," he said.

After the crash, Austyn's dad rappelled down the side of the mountain using the wench on his Jeep and hoisted his son back up. Other people who were driving the same trail stopped to help.

"One of them was a paramedic by trade and went down there, and he did 15 to 20 minutes' worth of CPR on my dad, and he just never – my daddy was gone," Kerley said.

Austyn was flown to a hospital. He had lost his spleen and more than 40 percent of his blood and had spinal injuries in his neck and back, a punctured lung and broken ribs.

But he was alive.

"There's no doubt in my mind my daddy gave his life to save him, and he would do it over and over again. That's who my dad was," Kerley said.

Austyn now has part of his grandfather’s knife collection – just one way to remember the man who died while doing everything he could to make sure his grandson lived.

"If he wouldn't have held onto me and saved me, then I don't think I would be here," Austyn said.

Doctors expected Austyn to stay in the hospital until the end of October, but he has already returned home. His mother calls his survival a miracle.

Copyright 2018 KFOR, Amanda Kerley via CNN. All rights reserved.