POCAHONTAS COUNTY, WV (WVNS) – After his second day of football practice at Pocahontas County High School, Senior Nicholas Stephens was involved in a horrific car accident on his way home.
Nicholas’s parents were notified of the accident by a local officer, but they say until they got to the hospital, they didn’t even know if their son was alive.
“The first question I asked was, ‘is he alive?” said Nicholas’ father Joseph Stevens. “And the officer said, ‘he was when I left.’ I’m like, “that’s not a lot of assurance, man.”
Nicholas’s left leg needed to be amputated, but two weeks later he is alive, in good spirits and receiving further treatment at Carilion Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. Doctors say he will have a final skin graft surgery on Friday, and his injuries are no longer considered to be life-threatening.
The Stephens family said it is a miracle, not only that their son survived, but that he will still get to live, for the most part, a normal life.
But none of that would be possible, without the actions of Nicholas’s teammates and coaches, who saw the cars on fire and immediately got out of their cars and rushed to help.
“We pulled up on the accident and we see that both vehicles are involved and both vehicles are on fire. So we get there and our initial thought is ‘okay, we need to help,” said football player Logan Wimer
The first two to arrive were Brad Carpenter and his son Brady.
“Oh yeah. It was hot. The heat was intense,” said Brad Carpenter, the Pocahontas Middle School Football Coach. “I can only imagine what he was going through in the car.”
When the Wimers arrived, the four quickly came up with a plan to extinguish the fire as fast as possible.
“He gave me a five-gallon bucket and Brady his lunchbox and we went to the river multiple times, shuttling water from the creek to the car to put it out.”
As more football players, coaches, and bystanders stopped to help, they formed an assembly line, passing the buckets of water from the creek up to the accident, until the fire was put out.
The actions of the players and coaches that day saved Nicholas’s life, as well as the lives of the family in the other car.
“They’re heroes. I don’t know if anybody likes to be classified as a hero, but those boys, for their age and what they’ve done. They didn’t hesitate,” said Carpenter.
Nicholas’s parents say there’s only one thing they want to tell the boys who helped save their son’s life after the accident.
“Thank you. I mean words can’t describe, kind of, the goodness it feels to know there’s still a bunch of good kids like you out there. Risking the very most precious thing you have, your life, for another life,” said Joseph Stevens.
As the Warriors prepare for their first game on Friday, they’re dedicating this season to their teammate Nick.
“We’re here to make a difference this year and make a long run in the playoffs, hopefully. And every game will be for him,” said football player Braedan Hayhurst.