Firefighters reunite 6-year-old crash survivor with beloved toy

Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 5:06 PM EDT
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YAVAPAI COUNTY, Ariz. (CNN) - First responders in Arizona are helping a child cope after losing his parents and brother in a tragic crash last month.

Authorities say the Stone family was driving home from a family reunion near Ash Fork, Arizona, when their vehicle slid across the highway in a rainstorm and collided with a semi-truck.

Brian and Alison Stone and their 8-year-old son Oliver were killed. Only 6-year-old Alex survived.

“I told him you have to be tough. We got to get you out of here,” said Tracy Zinn, a Kaibab Estates West volunteer firefighter.

Zinn said he just happened to be driving by the day of the crash.

“The car was so crushed that the little boy was in the front seat window,” he said.

The entire Kaibab Estates West volunteer department responded to the scene.

Five days later, the team got another call for help. Alex requested his stuffed animal from the car while in the hospital.

“I remembered seeing something blue on the hill that day. I didn’t realize it was a Cookie Monster toy,” Zinn said.

So, the team headed back to the site to look for it on the highway still littered with debris.

“We returned and walked down the freeway until we found the spot. We came up on a mission to rescue Cookie Monster. That was the day’s goal,” said Jessica Puisis, a Kaibab Estates West volunteer firefighter.

Even the fire chief’s daughter pitched in to help.

The team said they spotted the boy’s stuffed animal, but it needed some first aid.

“I scrubbed him up as best I could in the sink and rinsed him until he was as blue as he was going to be,” Puisis said.

Then the team headed to the hospital.

“We didn’t have time to dry him because we knew it was going to be late. So, Tracy [Zinn] held him out the window of the truck, driving him the entire hour and 15-minute drive,” Puisis said.

Alex’s grandmother, Cindy Mason, said everyone at the hospital was excited when the team walked in.

“It was so important to Alex to have Cookie. He just loved him, and to see them return, I will never forget it,” Mason said. “When we told Alex about Oliver, the first thing he asked for was the teddy bear. He was just so glad to get Cookie.”

Hospital staff said Alex is expected to fully recover from his injuries, while his grandmother said he is holding on to Cookie and memories of his family.

The firefighters who responded to the crash are also supporting a GoFundMe campaign for Alex and his grandmother, who is now the boy’s primary caregiver.

Alex’s grandmother said he thanked the firefighters for helping rescue him and Cookie and wants to see them again.