A.J. Hieber, 10, left, is credited with possibly saving his father's life after Adam Hieber was stung by a bee and suffered an allergic reaction while doing yard work at the family's Hamburg Township home. A.J. hopped on his bicycle and tracked down his mother, Sue, and 4-year-old sister, Hannah, at a nearby beach. / ALAN WARD / DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
HAMBURG TOWNSHIP, Mich. (Livingston Daily Press & Argus) - A.J. Hieber received some funny looks Aug. 5 as he pedaled through the streets of his Hamburg Township neighborhood - in his underwear.
But he didn't care if others perceived him as weird. He was on a lifesaving mission. Quite literally.
The 10-year-old took a break that Sunday from playing "Kirby's Return to Dreamland" on his Wii video-game system to check out an unexpected noise in the adjacent room: water being drawn for a bath.
His father, Adam Hieber, had been outside mowing the family's lawn when he was stung by two bees, to which he is highly allergic.
Knowing his "usual routine," the disoriented man stabbed himself with what he thought was a standard EpiPen and hopped in the bathtub, hoping to help cool his core temperature.
"My reactions cause me to get extremely hot," Adam Hieber said. "I feel like I'm melting from the inside. I could potentially die."
A.J. entered the bathroom to find his incapacitated father sobbing in the bathtub, advising his son to get his mother, Sue Hieber, who was at a nearby beach at Rush Lake with daughter Hannah, 4.
"I was struggling for every breath, just trying to get one more each time I would exhale," Adam Hieber said.
Staying "calm, cool and collected," according to his father, A.J. hopped on his bike and pedaled as fast as he could to alert his mother at the beach several blocks away, passing several gaping neighbors.
The 10-year-old didn't have access to his father's cell phone, and the family has no land line.
"It was clear to me that we needed to get help when A.J. arrived," said Sue Hieber, who quickly packed up their beach belongings and drove home.
The family arrived to find Adam Hieber face-down on the bathroom floor with an opened trainer EpiPen in the sink.
"I was immediately concerned," Sue Hieber said. "I didn't know how much time had passed since he was stung. He was so lethargic, and he was breathing heavily."
Sue Hieber administered two EpiPen doses to her husband before dialing 911. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was nursed back to health.
"Words cannot express my gratitude to A.J., Sue and the ambulance staff that helped me to live another day," Adam Hieber said. "Your entire life can change in a matter of seconds, and I am extremely grateful today for the people that love me, and my brave young son, A.J. Hieber.
"I owe my life to him."
As a result of the most recent incident, the Hieber family has decided to put their lawn mower up for sale and outsource the service.
"It's just too risky for me," Adam Hieber said. "I just can't bring myself to do it."