TUCSON (KVOA) - Last August, 10-year-old Preston Bell was riding horses with his grandmother in Oracle, Ariz. when disaster struck.
"The horse was bucking and came up and whacked her in the face. And she fell off, she was unconscious, I dug her into the shade and rolled her onto her side. She was throwing up. I was rubbing her back, then I called Papa,” Bell said.
Preston and his grandmother, Tammy Mockbee, were riding in a remote wash when Mockbee’s horse reared his head back. "He just hit me in the head, I had gone forward and he hit me in the head and knocked me and then I don't remember,” she said.
It was the first time Preston had ridden in the wash with his grandmother, so he really didn’t know where they were. But Mockbee said he told his grandfather he could see traffic on the road above them. “He told Papa he could see the trucks on the mountaintop and he told him if you drive the truck and trailer, I can tell you where to stop."
Mockbee’s injuries were serious and she had to be airlifted out of the wash. She said she has had seven surgeries, five of them major. “A horse's head weighs about 200 pounds, it was kind of like a sledgehammer hitting my face. It crushed my skull, my eye orbital, and crushed my nose, broke my palate,” she said.
On Saturday, the Oracle Fire District honored the now 11-year-old Preston. Preston and his grandmother were reunited with one of the EMTs, Joseph Marasa, who came to her rescue. “Without him for doing everything he did and doing it the right way, it would have been hard for us to be able to get there so big props to him to keep his composure and get us out there and getting the people needed to help her," Marasa said.
Preston is homeschooled. He said he was a little afraid but that his mom has always taught him to stay calm in sticky situations. “My mom said freak out later, take care of things first, freak out later when everyone else is there,” Preston said.