3-year-old Arkansas toddler hailed as a hero for saving his baby brother after a car crash killed their mom

Kylen Holliman is only three years old, but he is already a hero because of his amazing persistence getting help for himself and his baby brother after a deadly crash.

Toddler Kylen thegrio.com
Toddler Hero Kylen

A lost little boy’s resilience helped to save him and his baby brother after a horrific car crash claimed their mom’s life and sent him wandering through woods for days to find help, PEOPLE reports.

The boy, 3-year-old Kylen Holliman survived a crash and his mom’s car was settled deep in a ravine in Camden, Arkansas. It wasn’t a place that could be easily seen off the road, but Kylen somehow got out of the car and started walking as his one-year-old brother sat strapped in the mangled car, but still alive.

For days Kylen, braved the woods, wandering alone without food or water.

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Finally Reaching Help

On Monday morning, the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office received word of a toddler with cuts and abrasions on his face. They immediately started a search to figure out where the disheveled-looking child came from.

“All we knew was that the boy had a whole bunch of scratches and scrapes from head to toe,” Nathan Greeley, a Lieutenant with Ouachita’s detective criminal investigation division, told PEOPLE. “He looked like someone who had crawled through a bunch of thorns.”

Officers consoled Kylen, cared for him and cleaned him up. They took off his dirty clothes and bathed him and put on new ones.

“The parent instinct kicked in for all of us, we cared for him like he was our own child,” Greeley says. “He was very, very thirsty. He later colored and played with cars, but he wasn’t real vocal.”

The officers used social media to help identify the lost kid. After uploading the child’s picture of Facebook, within a half-hour Kylen was identified. The boy and his 25-year-old mother Lisa Holliman and brother had been missing for days.

Family said they had last heard from Lisa on Thursday or Friday of last week.

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Baby Brother is Found

Officers returned to the area near where Holliman was found and recovered Lisa Holliman’s car in an embankment. Inside was the 1-year-old toddler still alive and seated.

Lisa’s body was found outside of the vehicle.

“It appeared she had been ejected from the vehicle and she had been deceased for quite some time,” Greeley says. “The vehicle was turned on its side, and we found a 1-year-old child still in the child restraint, still alive.”

The little boy was taken to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Greeley says.

“You could tell he was just happy someone was there,” he says. “It didn’t matter if it was a complete stranger or not, we gave him that love and comfort that he needed.”

Police said the toddlers were likely left for three days and little Holliman likely climbed out the car’s sunroof and traveled through brush and trees about 300 yards until he was discovered.

“If it weren’t for him getting out of the vehicle, it would have been a horrible situation and we probably would be looking at three deaths as a result of that accident,” he adds. “You can imagine, both of them were traumatized. They had one hell of a stay down there.”

“All I can say is, in the 11 years that I’ve been here, I have never seen something so tragic and amazing at the same time,” Greeley says. “It’s tragic for the loss of the mother, but it’s nothing short of a miracle that the boy was able to escape. At the end of the day, that boy is the hero who saved his brother.”