nine-year-old jonathen guided his mother’s car to safety through three lanes of rush-hour traffic after grabbing hold of the steering wheel when she blacked out while driving him to school.
Jonathan Anderson, who is autistic and fascinated by cars, knew what to do when the Toyota Avensis veered into the central reservation of a dual carriageway at 70mph.
Holding the wheel with one hand, he applied the handbrake to slow the car, steering back to the inside lane. The car mounted the bank and hit a tree before coming to a stop by the side of the road. He then put on the hazard lights and sat patiently waiting for help to arrive.
The incident happened on the busy A38, close to Jonathan’s home in Plympton, near Plymouth. His mother, Marion, 34, was taking him to the special school he attends because he has Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism.
Ms Anderson said: “The last thing I remember is driving over the flyover to take Jonathan to school. I must have passed out, because the next thing I saw was a paramedic fitting a brace around my neck. I just couldn’t believe it when I was told what had happened and what Jonathan had done. He’s my little superhero.”
Doctors believe that she passed out because of an underactive thyroid.
Jonathan admitted that the experience was “scary”. He said: “I’ve never driven a car before.”
Pete Holden, one of two paramedics to attend the scene, said: “We were incredibly impressed with Jonathan’s brave actions. It must have been a very frightening experience, but his level head and quick thinking prevented a much more serious accident.”
Robbie Brown, an architect who was two cars behind Ms Anderson, said: “It was quite a shocking sight to see and I’m amazed no one was seriously hurt, given that the car swerved across the road twice.”
Jonathan will receive a bravery certificate from South Western Ambulance Service.
Ms Anderson, who has a curtain-making business, was at home yesterday after a hospital check-up. She said that her son’s condition meant he was fascinated by everything mechanical.
“Part of his autism has seen him develop into a very technically-mind-ed person,” she said. “He loves mechanical objects and is constantly telling me he wants to learn to drive . . . I’m sure he reacted the way he did in the accident because he has an understanding of cars and therefore how to stop them.”
The two-year-old Toyota was written off. She added: “I was shocked when I saw the damage because it brought home how serious the accident was and that we could easily have died. When I was lying in A&E the nurses told me what a miracle it was and how clever my son is. I’ve always been proud of him but even more so now.”