Horrific Accident Creates Lifelong Friends and Leads to Award at Iowa State Fair

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Calling it a parent's worst nightmare is an understatement.

“Tate...seeing me mowing, he wanted to come see his dad” said Ryan Manahl.

Manahl didn't expect his children to return to their Cedar Falls home until a little later, regardless, he says he taught his three year-old son Tate to stay away from the lawnmower while the blades were running; but Tate got close enough for tragedy to strike.

“I looked over my right shoulder, and he was on my left side. That's when I felt everything and heard and seen that I had backed over my own son” said Manahl, his eyes welling with emotion.

Manahl said it looked like a bomb went off. Tate had injuries to his intestines and two arteries in his leg had been severed. That's when Cory Johnson, a few doors down, heard the screams.

“Dropped what I was doing, asked my wife to call 911 and ran over to see what was happening” said Johnson.

When he arrived Tate was bleeding out. He took his shirt off to make a tourniquet. It didn't work; then he used his belt, holding it as tight as he could, with everything he had.

“Seemed like an eternity, but the paramedics got there fairly quick. I was just waiting for someone to take over what I was doing because I was running out of strength” said Johnson.

It worked. First responders rushed Tate to the emergency room where doctors were able to save his life. 30 surgeries later, they were able to save his leg.

“There were obviously several heroes from that day, and you thank them over and over again, but Cory was an angel for our family” said Manahl.

Cory had only met the family a few times prior to the accident, but now Ryan says the two families are bonded for life.

“God put him in our life that way and now that we have a relationship he's like family with us” said Manahl.

Tate's road to recovery isn't over. He has weekly physical therapy and more surgeries to go, but the entire community, along with the man who helped save his life, is along for the ride.

“He's doing amazing and you can see the smile on his face. It just lights me up every time I see it” said Johnson.

Six other Iowans were also honored Thursday morning with the Governor's Lifesaving Award.