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York County girl hailed as hero for helping mom, brother

When Stephanie Bryant woke one night last month to the sound of someone moaning in pain, she rushed to tell her mom.

The 11-year-old got to the bedroom, and found her mother barely conscious and bleeding from her head. Through a window, she saw someone outside struggling to crawl in the yard.

She quickly locked the door, grabbed her cell phone and dialed 911.

"All I knew was that my mom was in her room and she was hurt," Stephanie said Friday.

What she didn't know was that her mother, Kimberly Dawn Faile-Bryant, and her 16-year-old brother had been severely beaten. It was her brother lying in the yard.

Authorities would later charge her mother's boyfriend, Danny Ray Pittman, 32, with two counts of attempted murder in connection with the beatings.

Faile-Bryant and her son were taken by helicopter to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. They have since been released and are recovering.

Authorities said Stephanie is the reason they're alive.

"Seeing your mother with a bad head wound and having the wherewithal to pick up the phone and dial 911 ... it's amazing," said Denise Ax, a York public safety department dispatcher.

It was 11 p.m. Feb. 1 when Ax took a call about a woman with a severe head injury.

At least two minutes passed before Ax realized she was talking to a child.

Stephanie "was very articulate," Ax said Friday. "Every question I had, she answered it. She was right on it the whole time."

Ax instructed Stephanie to put a towel on the wound. Confused, disoriented and in pain, Faile-Bryant resisted. But Stephanie took charge.

"Mama, you need to lie down and let me put this towel on your head," she said that night.

To Ax, Stephanie confessed, "I'm scared. Will you stay with me?"

The call lasted five minutes until paramedics and York Co. sheriff's deputies arrived. Ax said "it seemed like an eternity."

Ax and Public Safety Communications colleagues joined Rock Hill Police Chief John Gregory and Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody on Friday at Belleview Elementary, where Stephanie is a fifth-grader.

They gathered in the gym where Principal John Kirell led a ceremony to honor Stephanie. They encouraged her classmates to remember to act like she did if ever in an emergency.

Dial 911 before calling anyone else, officials told the children. Know your address and phone number, they said.

Sobbing and without saying a word, Stephanie accepted a certificate of heroism and a certificate of honor.

"A lot of times adults don't know what to do in an emergency," Police Chief Gregory said. "I just thank God Stephanie knew."

Turning to the fifth-grader, Gregory said: "You are a hero and an example of what we all should do in times of crisis."