During the hour and a half 65-year-old Allen Clemmons was trapped under his Mustang convertible on March 10, he thought no one could hear his cries for help.
As the car was fracturing his legs and pelvis, he felt like it was crushing the air out of his lungs.
“I couldn’t hardly breathe,” Clemmons said. “I could holler, but nobody was coming to my rescue. I done give up.”
Clemmons said he prayed and asked God to give him the strength to shout for help one more time.
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To his surprise, a 9-year-old boy appeared just in time to shimmy a jack under the car and use it to lift the tremendous weight from the Sumter resident.
“If it hadn’t been for Malachi, I wouldn’t be here today, because I couldn’t have made it another 30 minutes,” Clemmons said.
Malachi Coffey, who said he was playing down the street at his aunt’s house, heard Clemmons' shouts for help and went to investigate, he said during an award ceremony in his name Tuesday.
When he found Clemmons, he remembered what his uncle taught him and used the jack to lift the car before running to get help, Malachi said.
Clemmons was flown to a hospital in Columbia to be treated for his extensive injuries. During his time there, Malachi visited him, and a friendship sprung between the man and the boy he refers to as “his angel.”
“When I saw him in the hospital, I couldn’t do anything but hug his neck,” Clemmons said.
Once Clemmons was released from the hospital, he invited Malachi and his family over for a thank-you dinner, Malachi’s mother, April Coffee, said. The two formed a bond, and Clemmons said he will always be thankful for the boy.
During a ceremony at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department, the pair stood in front of a crowd of family and deputies as Sheriff Anthony Dennis shared their story.
“God heard Mr. Clemmons call out and sent him a little angel,” Dennis said.
Dennis named Malachi a junior deputy for the day, pinning a badge to his shirt. Malachi, who wants to be a police officer when he grows up, said he would be keeping the star-shaped badge for a long time.
In addition to a plaque and some sheriff’s department memorabilia, Malachi also was named honorary employee of the month, and his photo will hang in the department’s lobby.
“Malachi, because of a split-second decision, saved a life,” Dennis said. “I commend you for your quick thinking skills and your attempt to save someone’s life.”