CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — The Sergeant family has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.
As part of the CBS 6 Month of Giving, Laura French surprised the Sergeant family after she learned about a heroic nine-year-old girl who saved her father’s life.
Dan Sergeant could have died while he was fixing his truck at the family's Chesterfield home on October 2.
“I had my truck jacked up in the yard, and the jack basically fell off the rear end and then it rolled down the ramps that I had it pulled up on, and it caught my head," Dan Sergeant said. “So, my head stopped the truck, and I was stuck there with my head in between the ramp and the tire of the truck."
Down, but not out, Sergeant gathered his strength.
"I'm like, 'I'm not going out like this.' So, I was able to somehow roll the truck back up the ramp with my arms and get my head out of there," he said. "The truck just took off down the ramps and just beat me up on the way over.”
Sergeant suffered a broken back, ribs, and a collapsed lung.
"I had to get up to get [daughter Ella's] attention,” he said. “She was inside watching TV. So I somehow got up and got myself to the front door, opened the door, and told her to go call 911.”
Ella Sergeant ran to the neighbors for help.
“The day it happened I was really scared,” Ella Sergeant said.
EMS rushed Dan to the hospital in critical condition.
All told he broke five ribs, fractured three vertebrae, suffered a collapsed lung and head injuries.
He spent 45 days in the hospital where he coded twice.
“I would have to say pretty much one of the hardest experiences I've I've ever had in my entire life,” Dan’s wife Katie Sheehan-Sergeant, who was at work when Dan was injured, said. "It's really a miracle that Daniel is here. It really is just a miracle and we owe it all to Ella and her bravery and her quick thinking.”
“I've thanked her a bunch of times. She's a hero. I mean she kept it together and was able to run and tell the neighbors and she did it fast. I mean, it didn't seem like very long,” Dan said. “She really kept her head on straight and really did the right thing. She's a really good girl. I mean, couldn't ask for a better daughter. She's perfect.”
Ella’s friends at Quest swimming helped French pick out some of her favorite arts and craft supplies and French made her a basket of goodies from CBS 6.
The Altria Theater donated three tickets to any show of the family's choice and CBS 6 presented them with a gift card for the family to enjoy dinner before the performance or another special night out.
“This is amazing,” Katie said. “I just can’t thank you enough.”
Dan, who is an amputee, said he will now have to retire on full disability.
“My whole life, I look at differently,” he said. “I mean, I really want to enjoy the rest of my life. I'm not going to be able to go back to work as a crane operator, so I'm really looking at having the rest of my life be as quality with these guys as it can possibly be with my wife and my daughter, and really give my daughter some experiences."
A GoFundMe was set up to help the family with medical expenses and they are still down vehicles.
“This whole accident did start because of Daniel trying to fix the truck because my car is down. So, we're still in the same boat,” Katie said.
Despite their needs, the family expressed how grateful they are for the outpouring of support they have already received from the community.
“If anyone thinks there are not good people in the world, man there are everywhere,” Dan said.
Watch for a new CBS 6 Month of Giving surprise every day in December on CBS 6 News at 6 a.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.
Find unique, award-winning stories every day on CBS 6 News: