TWIN FALLS — All eyes were on 5-year-old Chance McGrath Wednesday as Sheriff Tom Carter honored the Twin Falls man who saved his life.
Mike Coonce was on his way to his 8-year-old son’s tee-ball game on the evening of June 11 when he saw cars on Pole Line Road “weaving and swerving as if there was something in the road,” Carter said.
That something in the road was little Chance who had “embarked on an adventure” unbeknownst to his parents, the sheriff said. The boy had been riding his bicycle in the neighborhood cul-de-sac when he disappeared.
Minutes later, Chance’s father, Jon McGrath, found his son’s bicycle in a field at the edge of his subdivision. The field was too rough to ride in, Chance told the Times-News on Wednesday.
McGrath, a paramedic with Magic Valley Paramedics, called his friend and neighbor, Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Deputy Neil Shulz, who headed that way.
Chance, then 4, had decided to return to his preschool at Twin Falls Reformed Church, he said, when he tried to cross Pole Line Road on foot. Coonce was westbound on Pole Line — about a half-mile west of Grandview Drive North — when he saw the boy darting back and forth in 60-mph traffic.
“He was confused,” Coonce said. “He didn’t know which way to go.”
Other drivers dodged the boy and sped past.
“I locked up my brakes and turned into the middle of the road,” Coonce said.
As Chance ran for the borrow pit, Coonce positioned his truck between the boy and oncoming traffic, creating a safe barrier.
“Mike calmed the crying child, told him he would help him find his parents, and put the frightened boy in his truck,” Carter said.
Coonce saw Shulz approaching in his sheriff’s cruiser and flagged him down. The deputy called the boy by name.
“Because of Mike’s swift and selfless actions, Chance was uninjured and reunited with his parents,” Carter said, as McGrath wiped tears from his eyes and little Chance covered his face with his hands to divert attention from the crowd.
“Thanks for stopping — we will forever be grateful,” McGrath told Coonce. “Chance doesn’t understand the gravity (of what happened), but Dad does.”
Coonce said he didn’t think about what he was doing until after it was over.
“The way things worked out, well...,” he said, his voice trailing off. “I believe in God, and something had put me in the right place.”
“(Chance) was confused. He didn’t know which way to go.” Mike Coonce, the Twin Falls hero who saved Chance McGrath’s young life