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You wouldn’t normally expect your nine-year-old to have to save your entire family. But the Bakers of Oklahoma found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. And Branson Baker is anything but an ordinary little boy.

Even for folks who have lived their entire lives in the US’s “Tornado Alley,” it can be hard to know the best plan when a storm comes through. The path of a storm can be erratic. One weekend in April, multiple tornadoes hit Oklahoma and Texas, injuring dozens of folks. The Bakers waited out a Sunday night storm warning, deciding whether to stay home or dash for better cover. When it was clear that a serious storm was on track for their house, they decided to make a break for a friend’s storm shelter. But the tornado had other plans.

The storm made a sudden turn and caught up with the fleeing family. It picked up their entire pickup truck and flipped it into a pile of trees. The impact crushed the front of the cab, pinning Branson’s parents in their seats, each with multiple broken bones.

In a storm, in the dark, with both parents injured and trapped, most nine-year-olds would have panicked. But Branson volunteered to run for help. He climbed out of the truck and said, “Mom, Dad, please don’t die, I will be back.” Then Branson began running down the road.

Tornado on the horizon
Tornado | Justin Hobson via iStockPhoto

Johnny Baker, Branson’s uncle, said, “He ran as fast as he could, as hard as he could. He probably made a mile in 10 minutes, and that’s pretty impressive for a little kid.”

The trickiest part of racing along the debris-strewn road was finding his way back to his neighborhood in the dark. Johnny Baker revealed, “The only way he found his way back is lightning strikes. Every time there was a lightning strike, it would light up the road.”

Finally, Branson reached a neighbor’s house, and the neighbor followed him back to the smashed truck–and his family.

Emergency responders found Wayne and Lindy Baker had both suffered multiple injuries including broken ribs, and backs. They transported the couple to the Oklahoma University medical center’s intensive care unit. But after a scary few days, it looks like both Branson’s parents will be alright.

Branson’s father appeared on the news with his son, wearing a neck brace but full of praise for the boy. “Branson sprung into action really quick, he’s a very courageous son. For a 9-year-old boy… not many adults would have done what he did…I couldn’t be more proud to be a father. A son that can accept a challenge in that way shows that he would go above and beyond for anyone.”

Branson admits, “I was really, really scared.” But being brave despite his fear, he has become a local hero. Inspired by Branson, the town has banded together in support of the Bakers. Friends, family, and neighbors raised $10,000 toward the family’s medical bills. And Branson’s baseball team now wears stickers on their helmets to show their support of the Baker family. At the game the day after the accident, Branson he somehow found the energy to hit a home run.

Next, read about the 18-year-old who sacrificed herself to save a wheelchair-bound woman trapped on train tracks, or watch the Baker family interviewed in the video below: