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Boy, 7, reunites with paramedics that helped save his life

Paramedics Clinton Faulkner and Anthony Perrone said Caden was very calm after the crash and was “such a brave little boy for his age”

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By Samantha Putterman
The Bradenton Herald

LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. — It started out like any other day for 7-year-old Caden McClusky and his family.

Riding in the car with his dad that Nov. 7 morning in Lakewood Ranch, everything was normal.

Until it wasn’t.

All of a sudden, his father suffered a medical emergency and began to lose control of the car. Caden, who can barely see over the wheel, tried to help.

But it was too late and the car slammed into another vehicle.

Trauma helicopters were dispatched, and Caden and his dad were airlifted to Tampa. Both, miraculously, survived without any life-threatening injuries.

“It’s a call you never want to get,” said Caden’s mother, Katie Dean, with tears in her eyes. “But (his rescuers) were incredible. They never left his side and I just thank them so, so much.”

In the days since, a Facebook post led Dean to connect with one of the men who saved her son’s life. They decided to set up a reunion.

When Caden arrived at the Manatee County Safety Complex on Monday morning, he brought his entire family with him to meet his saviors.

Those two paramedics – Clinton Faulkner and Anthony Perrone – greeted Caden with smiles, hugs and high-fives.

“I’ve been doing this since 2001, and this is the first time I’ve gotten to meet someone after a rescue,” Faulkner said, smiling.

Faulkner said they got the call of the crash around 8 a.m. It took 10 minutes to get there.

“To see the amount of damage to the cars, that concerned me,” he said. “And when you don’t see a lot of outward injuries, you have to worry about internal.”

And while Caden suffered a head injury and a tear in his liver, he is going to be fine.

“He had an angel watching over him that day,” Dean said in a shaky voice as she hugged her son tightly.

But what really struck Faulkner and Perrone, they said, was Caden’s calmness and maturity – especially for a 7-year-old.

“I don’t think he cried one time,” Faulkner said. “He handled it better than most adults.”

“He was such a brave little boy for his age,” Perrone said.

The men talked to Caden the entire time, continually asking him questions about his favorite hobbies and video games to help keep his spirits up.

At one point, Faulkner noticed a shark-tooth necklace Caden was wearing. Concerned it might get cut off or lost in the hectic transition with the hospital, he took it off and put it away in a safe place.

He promised Caden he would get it back soon.

“I could just tell it was special, that it meant something to him,” Faulkner said.

He found out he was right – it’s Caden’s favorite.

Later, when Dean got to the hospital, Caden had his necklace back.

“And he just said to me, Mom, ‘The guy told me ... a promise is a promise.’ ”

Now, almost two weeks later, Caden got to thank his rescuers, switch on a few emergency sirens, and climb into the same helicopter that took him to the hospital – all while wearing his necklace.

Copyright 2017 The Bradenton Herald

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