Boy, 9, helps dad after cooking accident

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

Ron was heating a pot of oil at his Williston home on Saturday afternoon, ready to cook some chicken wings for Super Bowl munchies.

Stankevich noticed the pot was beginning to smoke. He decided to carry it out to the deck and place it in the snow to cool. He grabbed the pot and slid open the glass door.

But Stankevich forgot the screen door. He bumped the pot into the screen, splashing hot oil over his hands. He held the pot for a moment, and then dropped it on the rug.

“What I remember thinking to myself is that ‘man, I’m in trouble’ because it started to hurt very quickly,” Stankevich said. He felt dizzy and realized he might be going into shock. And the pot full of hot oil on the rug could be a fire hazard.

He needn’t of worried. His son, Connor, 9, knew just what to do.

“I said ‘Connor, I need some help,’” said. “The next thing I knew, he was gone.”

Connor, who was in the living room playing a video game, quickly put on his boots — but not his hat and coat — and ran to get the next-door neighbor, Kirk Lang, who in turn called 911.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Stankevich. “A lot of kids would have panicked or cried or froze up. As soon has he saw that I needed help, he was out the door in seconds.”

Connor said that he was scared when his father called for help. But he immediately understood that he “just needed to go right away” to get help.

Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton said that children can be taught to call 911 as soon as they can talk. By the time they are in school, children can be given further instruction on how to explain an emergency to a 911 dispatcher.

In any case, a child that dials 911 — or finds someone to do it — ensures that help is on its way, Morton said. That’s because Williston has an enhanced 911 system that identifies the address where the call originates.

“It’s a trigger mechanism,” Morton said, adding that even if a 911 caller hangs up after dialing, Williston police will respond and determine if there is a problem.

Stankevich said he taught his son to get neighbors to call 911 for him if there was an emergency.

Stankevich was rushed to the hospital. He was treated for second-degree burns and released.

Connor stayed overnight with neighbors. “I was in no condition that night to take care of him,” said Stankevich. He credited two other in his Coyote Run neighborhood, Theresa Davidson and Bill Vien, for helping clean up the mess and checking on his welfare.

Now that he’s been through an emergency, what would Connor tell his friends about handling an emergency involving a parent?

“I’d say don’t worry, he’s going to be OK,” Connor said. “Whatever happens, it’s going to be OK. Don’t get sad.”