Miranda Bowman, 12, Grabs Wheel When Grandfather Dies

VIDEO: Miranda Bowman, 12, grabbed the wheel of a pickup truck after her grandfather died of a heart attack.PlayABCNEWS.com
WATCH N.J. Girl Grabs Wheel When Grandfather Dies

A quick-thinking, 12-year-old New Jersey girl saved her own life and possibly the lives of others when she guided a pickup truck off the road after her grandfather suffered a fatal heart attack while at the wheel.

Miranda Bowman was riding in the front seat with her 63-year-old grandfather Paul Parker last Tuesday after the two had shared an afternoon of go-carting at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J.

After leaving the park, Parker, who Miranda says was a "tough cookie" who never had any heart issues, told her that he wasn't feeling well in "a way he told her he'd never felt before."

He asked his granddaughter to keep speaking to him as they barreled down the road.

"Maybe about 30 seconds later, I heard his head tap on the window," Miranda told ABC News. "His foot was going down farther and farther. We were going 25, and then I think it just went to 80."

As the car began to swerve and veer into the oncoming lanes along Buckshutem Road, she quickly undid her safety belt and tried to call 911, although she was unable to get her phone unlocked. When she finally managed to unlock it, she was still without service on the rural road.

Miranda, realizing that she didn't want the car to hit anyone else, decided to climb below the steering wheel and press her hand on the brake. The truck slowed, but did not stop. She says at that point she decided to use her foot on the brake to stop the vehicle from barreling into any oncoming traffic.

Also fearing that the car would "fish tail flip over" if it were to suddenly stop, Miranda put her foot on the brake and pressed all of her meager weight down as hard as she could.

"I saw some trees, and I figured I can only hurt myself if I go off the road," she said, adding that she passed about eight cars throughout the ordeal.

"Every car that passed me, I started waving my hands at while I was screaming. Everyone pulled over to the side of the road," she said.

As they veered off the two-way road, Miranda says the truck barreled over three tree stumps. The final one brought the vehicle to a stop.

With the car at a stand-still and her dead grandfather next to her, Miranda was panicked and desperately trying to get out of the truck, but the door was jammed, and she was unable to smash the window. She soon saw a broken part of the passenger's side door and was able to get out of the vehicle.

"I was screaming and crying," Miranda said. "I could barely stand and I was shaking so much."

Luckily for Miranda, one of the motorists who watched on as the girl managed to save her own life was able to help the rattled girl.

"A lady said, 'Come here, calm down,' and then I sat on someone else's driveway, and called my mom," she said.

Miranda said that because her mother, Stephanie Bowman, works at night, she had been asleep, and she wasn't able to get through to her. But she was able to get through to her grandmother, and her father, an emergency medical technician, was alerted quickly.

"I really was scared about what to do. I thought I was going to die myself, but I didn't. And I was upset that my grandfather died," Miranda said. "I feel like it was just a dream, and it's over now, but my mom said that when everything calms down, it will start coming to me a little."

Stephanie Bowman said that she wants her daughter to talk with people about what happened to work through it.

"I just couldn't be any more proud of her," she said. "How she actually did it is beyond me. I don't know if I could watch my grandfather die, and do what she did."

Bowman describes Miranda as your typical 12-year-old girl who likes to roller skate and play softball. She says she's "not a wuss, and not a little girl in pink, and not afraid of anything."

Although Bowman is grieving the loss of her father, she says, she can't help but be grateful Miranda survived.

"I'm not experiencing the loss as much as everyone else," she told WPVI-TV. "Because I am too grateful, and blessed to have my baby girl."