Hometown Hero: Third Grader Saves Sisters from Smoking Vehicle

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Heroes come in all ages and sizes, and they surface when you need them the most.

Donte Wright, 9, is a third grader in Springfield. He and his 6-year-old sister Hannah Marie are always together. After all, he is her big brother.

"We basically go everywhere with each other," he says.

On October 28, Donte, Hannah Marie, their 6-year-old sister and a 2-year-old girl were riding in a car at James River Freeway and Sunshine when the ride came to a crashing halt. The driver, who is a close relative of the children, slammed into the back of a truck and the car began to smoke.

Police say the driver was intoxicated. That's when Donte took the role of a full grown man and went into action.

"We got in a wreck and I got out of the door and opened the other door because they were already unbuckled," he recalls. "I thought the car was going to catch on fire."

Donte was in the front seat, and the girls in the back. Hannah and the others were buckled in. The smoke was building and she was terrified, but as always, her big brother was there. Donte got himself out and ran around the crushed car to help his sisters.

"It made me kind of scared because he had a bloody nose," says Hannah Marie. "He made me feel like he was helping me because he loves me."

Donte made sure the doors were open and the girls could breathe. As he worked to get them out of the car, witnesses raced to help him. Their mother feels she is lucky to have her children with her today. She credits her brave little man.

"I'm almost speechless," says Cassandra Ethridge. "I can't imagine being in that situation and the strength that it had to take for him to get himself out and get back into the situation and help his sisters. I told him since day one he is my hero."

Hannah Marie couldn't agree more.

"I think he's my hero."

All the children were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and the driver was arrested. Cassandra says is so grateful for Donte's quick actions.

"Hannah was saying she was having trouble breathing and I worry if she hadn't got out of the car, how much damage it could have -- the smoke inhalation or possibly worse -- and so I kind of feel like he saved her life in a way."

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