COLUSA COUNTY (CBS13) — After a fiery blast killed a father working at a rice field in Colusa County, his young son ran more than four miles to get help.

After watching his father catch fire, a 7-year-old boy did what many people three times is age could never do: he ran more than four miles to get help.

“He cut right through the fields,” said Austin Young, who spoke to the boy. “He said, ‘I need help, my dad’s dead.”

Austin Young was in his backyard when out of the sunflower fields came someone he never expected.

“We saw this little kid come into the backyard. He was covered in mud head to toe,” said Austin.

With shoes that slowed him down in hand, the little boy relayed a story that Austin will likely never forget.

“He said his father was on fire and his dad was dead,” said Austin. “He was pretty much in shock. It hadn’t sunk in yet.”

Roberto Ayala was a foreman for a local agriculture company and had brought his son on a brief work stop to turn on an electrical irrigation pump at a rice field south of Colusa.

“There was an explosion and his father was on fire,” said Lt. Shane Maxey of the Colusa County Sheriff’s Dept.

A charred piece of earth shows where the tragedy took place. Ayala’s son ran as fast as he could through tall grass, ditches and sunflower fields.

“He’s pretty courageous. He said he tried to get the phone out and couldn’t find a phone,” said Austin. “He said he didn’t know what to do but run.”

Three agencies are investigating what caused the explosion. Even seasoned detectives were touched by the boy’s strength in the face of such a devastating loss.

“My heart goes out to the kid, you know,” said Lt. Shane Maxey of the Colusa County Sheriff’s Dept. “It’s a very tragic event, but had the presence of mind to find his way to get some help.”

The sheriff’s department says that sometime down the road they may consider giving the boy a commendation for his brave act.

Except for a few scratches, the boy wasn’t hurt.

The Colusa County Sheriff’s Department, Cal/OSHA and PG&E are all investigating the cause of Ayala’s death.

Comments (11)
  1. Carol says:

    I cried while reading this. This is the most horrid way to die, but for a child to see it, even more horrid. I am glad this boy ran to try to get help, more so for him not seeing more than what he did see.
    My heart goes out to this innocent young child who saw something no one should ever see. I hope someone gets him help. He will need to be watched closely for quite some time.

  2. eldoradohillsmama says:

    Wow, my heart goes out to this little boy. God Bless him and keep him safe. What a thing to have to witness at such a young age, let alone any age.

  3. Brandy h of Colusa says:

    Hello all, it was such a tragedy but this 7 year old little boy was so strong and courageous he was able to find some help after seeing a horrifying event ! And he ended up at my house! I was able to find out what happen To his father and aid him in seeking help From 911! I’m a mother as well and my instincts kicked in to do what was best in keeping him calm for the information that was needed! I’m glad we were home my heart goes out to him and his family! He was a hero that day in my book!

    1. sarah says:

      God Bless all of you as well as the little boy’s family!

  4. mike r says:

    We cannot imagine what in the dicence happened i hope the story is followed so we know and warnings adopted so it never happens again. This was a tragic accident for this child to see, it just goes to show how a small child can react in an emergency. I hope that he does get a special medal and recognition, poor little guy.

  5. disgusted says:

    I was so touched by this story. A 7 year old seeing such a tragic incident. Then when I read that PG&E was involved with the investigation, I cringed. PG&E will do everything possible to hide the truth to avoid any responsibility. I hope Cal/OSHA will step up and oversee each step PG&E takes during this investigation. The poor child deserves, at the very least, the true reason why his father died and compensated for such a tragedy.

  6. Carole Clarke says:

    Probably a spark that caused a kind of reverse lighting strike that ignited his clothes. What presence of mind for such a young child to run for help and over such a long distance. He will need counseling to get thru this and I hope someone keeps an eye on him educationally. Sounds like he might have the right stuff for the future in the military, industry, academics or sports like track and field. Such people are born not made, he needs to be carefully nutured.

  7. Kriss Greenn says:

    I’m just sorry this little boy (now a little man) had to go thru this. Lil’ guy, you have more guts than I do and i hope that never changes.

  8. AISHA says:

    dat young boy is a hero may GOD BLESS HIM.

  9. AISHA says:

    dat boy is my hero may GOD BLESS HIM

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