LAWTON — Ever since he was a toddler, Daniel Sprague was fascinated by first responders.
The 13-year-old Fletcher boy, who has spent his entire life around first responders, learned to perform CPR when he was about 5. He also knows first aid and what to do in an emergency.
Daniel, who is has autism, demonstrated his ability to stay calm under pressure early the morning of Aug. 12. He discovered that his father, Jim Sprague, had collapsed at Sprague’s home at Robinsons Landing near Lake Lawtonka.
“Apparently, my son got up to get a drink of water early in the morning and found his dad lying on the floor, face down, not breathing,” Daniel’s mother, Rachael Huey, said in an Aug. 25 interview. “So, he called 911.”
Daniel and his father were quarantined together while they both recovered from COVID-19.
Huey said her son tried to roll Sprague over and perform CPR on him, but Daniel was too sick and weak from COVID to move his father’s body. She added that Sprague, who stood 6 feet tall and weighed approximately 280 pounds, had collapsed and died several hours before Daniel found him.
The Fletcher Fire Department, the Comanche County Sheriff’s Department and Huey arrived at the scene, but there was nothing they could do for Sprague.
After the scene was cleared, Huey took Daniel to her home in Fletcher, where he was isolated in his room because he was still recovering from COVID.
“That’s a pretty hard thing for a 13-year-old who just lost his father — found his father dead,” Huey said. “Now he can’t even get love and stuff from mom.”
Because Huey wanted to protect her family against COVID, she put on personal protective equipment and an N95 mask before she opened the door to Daniel’s room, where she hugged him. After leaving the room, she took a shower.
The family took similar steps to serve Daniel’s meals. They passed him food through the door, sprayed the area with Lysol and took showers.
The family’s efforts to protect themselves against COVID while caring for Daniel apparently paid off, Huey said.
“Luckily, we prevented ourselves from getting it, and we kept him as healthy as we could,” she said.
Huey said Daniel did not want to be interviewed for this story because he doesn’t like drawing attention to himself.
A friend of Huey’s knew how Daniel felt about first responders, so she organized a parade to honor his efforts to save his father.
The Aug. 18 parade in Fletcher drew first responders from across Comanche County and surrounding counties. As they drove by Huey’s house, they slowed down and waved to Daniel, who was still recovering from COVID, and his family.
The first responders also offered Daniel words of encouragement or gave him patches or T-shirts.
“Just to say, ‘Hey, you know what? We can’t come up there and give you guys hugs, but you’re not alone,’” Huey said. “It was very overwhelming.”
At the tail end of the parade, Fletcher Police Chief Jason Delonais climbed out of his truck and handed Daniel an envelope. The envelope contained a certificate honoring Daniel for his bravery in a crisis and making him an honorary police officer for the town of Fletcher.
Delonais also gave Daniel a real police badge. And when Daniel was well enough to return to school, the police chief gave him a ride to class in his police truck.
Daniel does not like being the center of attention, and he did not want any part of the parade at first, Huey said. But he changed his mind when Huey told him that the first responders were showing that they cared about him.
Daniel was overwhelmed by the parade, but it also fueled his interest in becoming a first responder someday.
“He might even be leaning a little more toward law enforcement after that,” Huey said. “That really touched him.”