Washington 5th grader takes heroic action to save friend

Zane and Jacob

WASHINGTON, Ind. (WTHI) – The Daviess County Sheriff’s Office Thursday awarded Zane Leake, 11, a plaque for his heroic action that helped get his friend, Jacob MIller, to safety, in what could have been a life-threatening situation. The ceremony, which was held at one of Sheriff Harbstreit’s meetings at the Daviess County Security center high lighted the effort that happened that day.


Jacob Miller, 10, of Washington was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in November and began chemotherapy and radiation. The onset of the diagnosis forced Miller and his family back and forth from Washington to a cancer treatment center. Jacob was between cancer treatments in April when his family brought him home to visit with friends for Easter Sunday. On April 22, Miller and Leake were crossing a field to visit a third friend, when Zane had a seizure and collapsed. According to officials, Miller asked Leake to go find his parents, but Leake refused to leave.

The Award Ceremony: 

With tear filled eyes, Sheriff Harbstreit spoke the words that Leake spoke to Miller the day of the incident. “He says I love you bro, I love you bro,” said the Sheriff. “This young man has went through a lot already with his illness, and just having that friendship there with his buddies and especially Zane on that particular day.”

Leake refused to leave, and instead, picked up Miller carrying him to safety.

“Jacob had a small seizure, and went down to the ground, he was still conscious and told Zane to go ahead to the house and get my mom,” said Harbstreit.

Before his family, and friend Miller, Sheriff Harbstreit read from a plaque made special for Leake. “Friends are angels that carry us when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.” As soon as Leake realized he was being recognized for his heroic efforts, he buried his head into his hands.

The plaque featured a picture of Zane and Jacob, which also commended Leake for his heroic efforts.

Zane’s Mom:

While Zane was a little too shy to talk to News 10 cameras, however, his mother shared a few words after the ceremony. She also noted Zane’s not usually shy, but when it comes to his friend Jacob, it’s a touchy subject.

“He was in shock at first, I was there,” said Tabatha Riker, Zane’s mother. She recalled Zane’s telling her of what happened. “He just stared and cried, kind of worried me but, I was a frantic mess trying to figure out what was going on.”

Riker told News 10, her son’s act was a blessing, and made her feel like she was succeeding as a parent.

“Our world is in desperate need of heroes,” said Harbstreit. “Zane told him, I will not leave you alone, I love you bro.”


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