PLANT CITY, Fla. (AP) — An 83-year-old man with a prosthetic leg is being hailed as a hero after helping rescue two small children from a car after it crashed, killing their mother.

The Tampa Bay Times ( reports that Ralph Patterson said he heard the crash and the children’s screams in Plant City, Florida, on Sunday.

Patterson told the newspaper he saw a 4-year-old boy hanging out the back broken window of a minivan that had ended up in a ditch. Because the ditch was difficult to reach with his leg, he flagged down a passing motorist. Together he and the motorist retrieved the 1- and 4-year-old brothers.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies said the youngest boy was ejected from the van and neither child was wearing a seat-belt.

The boys were treated for minor injuries and reunited with their father.

Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.),

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