A father in Colorado is being hailed as an extraordinary hero after saving his 13-year-old daughter's life by throwing his body on top of hers and shielding her from a sudden deadly rock slide that killed him and five other people in Chalk Creek Canyon. The teen, Gracie Johnson, is the sole survivor of the slide, which came after heavy rains in the area but is being described as a "freak accident." Gracie was climbing with her entire family and, tragically, her father, mother, and sister all died. But Gracie told police that her father shielded her from the massive boulders.

Sheriff's Deputy Nick Tolsma was hiking near the accident when he said he heard a scream and saw a hand sticking out from beneath a boulder the size of a car. It was Gracie. Tolsma told ABC News:

The true hero is her dad. She said her dad jumped on her to protect her at the last moment when the rocks were coming down. I think he saved her life.

I think it would be most parents' first reaction to try and save their child from death, even if death was staring him or her in the face. If it's between you and your child -- most parents, not all, but most -- would certainly choose that their child live.

But to have this not be a hypothetical -- but a REAL situation -- to have huge boulders bearing down on you, and your family, and to have to leap into action, crush yourself on top of your child to try and save her, all the while knowing that it most certainly means your own death ... I cannot imagine.

Poor Gracie will live with this knowledge for the rest of her life. That her Dad saved her. That the rest of her family is gone.

All on what should have been a beautiful, fun trip. Life can certainly turn on a dime.

Gracie's father is a hero most definitely -- but even more undeniably, he's a dad.

What would you have done?


Image via ABC News