It was a February evening in Arkasas when police showed up at the home of preschooler Ezekiel McCulley and his family. The Fayetteville Police Department and Fire Department had been searching for 65-year-old Tony Joab, a missing elderly man with Alzheimer’s for hours, after he disappeared from his home between 7 am and noon that day without taking a phone or vehicle with him. They were now going door-to-door to ask the people of nearby neighborhoods if they’d seen anyone matching the man’s description.
“There had been extensive efforts made to locate the gentleman, but we just hadn’t found him yet,” said Lt. Scott Carlton with the Fayetteville Police Department. “Darkness was moving in on us. We had rainfall coming in, and we had done everything we could to put the information out to the public to try to find him.”
But no one could have predicted that the tip that saved the man’s life would come from a very smart and brave preschooler.
When police showed up at Ezekiel’s home, no one else in his family knew anything about the missing man, but the preschooler was quick to inform them that he had seen a man out in the woods near his school while he was out at recess that day.
Ezekiel was a little nervous to talk to police but also excited to be able to help. He didn’t know until later, however, that his tip would ultimately be the main factor that led to the man’s timely rescue.
“The cops ended up coming back and knocking on our door,” said Ezekiel’s mom, Brittany McCulley. “They told us they found him and that it was due to his tip. They asked if they could take a picture with him, and he has just been so excited since.”
Ezekiel, for his part, had the sweetest response when he was questioned about the event:
“I saved someone just off my eyes,” said Ezekiel happily.
When the adorable five-year-old was asked how he felt about saving a man’s life, he made up the word “criracle,” a mixture between “crazy” and “miracle,” to describe the unique feeling.
The police and firefighters also came to Ezekiel’s school to congratulate him in a more official manner and to share the story with his classmates at Happy Hollow Pre-K. They brought cookies, badges, and other items to help the students celebrate Ezekiel’s heroism.
“Everyone wanted to come and meet him, so the police officers and firemen were so excited this morning to come down here and see him,” said Lt. Carlton.
Sometimes important contributions to our society come from the most unexpected of places. How amazing that Ezekiel was able to overcome his fears and use his spectacular memory to possibly save a man’s life! Way to go, Ezekiel!
Check out the video below to learn more about Ezekiel’s heroic act!