Jerry Greenough, a 63-year-old Oklahoma man and frequent volunteer at the multi-campus Victory Church in Oklahoma is being hailed a hero by his family after he died trying to shield his grandson from injury as his Jeep rolled 150 feet down the side of a mountain in New Mexico.
In a Facebook post earlier this month, Greenough's daughter, Amanda Kerley, revealed that for the last 20 years he has been making off-roading trips to Red River, New Mexico. On Sept. 1 he decided to take her 13-year-old twin sons, Austyn and Ty, with him. Her husband Tony also made the trip.
On their way back tragedy struck.
"Ty was with Tony in our Jeep and Austyn was with my daddy in his Jeep coming down from Goose Lake in Red River, New Mexico. They had spent the night up there and were headed down to go to Ouray, Colorado, when the unspeakable happened," Kerley wrote. "My daddy's Jeep went off the side of the mountain."
She said Austyn "called for help on the CB before the Jeep rolled, ejecting them from the Jeep."
With the help of many strangers, they were able to save Austyn but Greenough did not survive. After hearing what Austyn, who suffered serious injuries from the accident, had to say about what happened, Amanda is convinced her father died fighting to ensure his grandson survived.
"We got stuck on a rock and, so my papa tried to floor my Jeep to get it over the rock, and the rock slid out and we just rolled down the hill," Austyn told WGN9.
As they rolled down the hill, Amanda said she was told her father cushioned her son inside the vehicle.
"My dad grabbed a hold of him and just cocooned him, just totally protected him from as much as he could as the jeep rolled down," she said. "There's no doubt in my mind my daddy gave his life to save him and he would do it over and over again. That's who my dad was."
And Austyn agrees.
"If he wouldn't have held on to me and saved me, then I don't think I would be here," he said. "I remember his arms around me because I held on to his right sleeve all the way down until he let go of me and I lost grip and flew out."
Dale Swanson, executive pastor at Victory Church, told The Christian Post Thursday that he never expected Greenough to die the way he did but said, "he loved the mountains and loved his Jeep."
"He was a great guy. He was a great servant here. He volunteered a lot. It's a shocker," Swanson said. "His family is still dealing with everything. I'm sure it's been a big shock for them and they are working through things."
In an obituary posted to Facebook Wednesday, Greenough's wife of more than 40 years noted his love serving at his church.
"He served as an usher for over 30 years and loved serving at church. He attended Victory Church the last 19yrs. He worked in the auto parts business for over 40yrs. In 2001 he took the new name of Papa as he was given by his only granddaughter," the obituary said.
It also noted his love for off-roading.
"Jerry loved to take his Jeep up in the mountains with his wife and family. He was front and center to every event his grandkids were in, giving so much love and support to them. He enjoyed sitting on the patio with Teresa in the evenings in front of their koi pond," his family said.
A memorial service for the beloved grandfather will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 4 at Victory Church.