THE CATCH - Eighth-grader snags 2-year-old boy

  • Published
  • By Tim Barela
  • Torch Magazine
Cary Clevenger says this will be his last year of football. At 5-foot-1, 105 pounds, the eighth-grader has deemed himself a bit too small to continue in the sport he started four years ago. After a catch that captivated the nation, however, perhaps the receiver should reconsider.

Fourteen-year-old Cary snagged 2-year-old Cannon Jamison out of midair after the 25-pound toddler had fallen headfirst out of a second-story window in his parents' Buda, Texas, home Jan. 30. With a concrete driveway at the bottom of that 17-foot drop, Cary is being hailed a hero for saving Cannon's life.

"Cannon pushed on the screen, the screen popped out, and then he popped out," said Cary, who goes to Dahlstrom Middle School in Buda (13 miles southwest of Austin). "I just reached my arms out and caught him."

Ironically, Cary had been visiting his best friend, Gavin, Cannon's older brother, that weekend, to watch a movie called "To Save a Life" through the family's church youth retreat program.

"The day before they were set to see the movie, Cary saved our son's life," said Christie Jamison, Cannon's mom. "I guess he kind of upstaged the show."

The weekend started out like many others. The teenage boys went upstairs to play Xbox, while mom prepared dinner. Cannon loves to "hang with the guys," so he followed the teens up the stairs.

"It gets hot upstairs, so Gavin opened the window," Christie said.

But when the boys later went back downstairs to ride their skateboards, they forgot to close the window and didn't notice that little Cannon had stayed behind.

While Gavin went to ask his mom if a couple of more friends could come over, Cary set about doing tricks on his skateboard in the driveway. Meanwhile, another neighbor, 14-year-old Kathleen Shoemaker, arrived.

"I heard Cannon say, 'Hi!' and thought he was outside right behind me," Cary said. "But when he wasn't there, I looked up and saw him standing in the windowsill. He was making funny faces and laughing. But he was also pushing on the screen. I talked to him and tried to get him to step away from the window and come downstairs."

Unsuccessful in his coaxing, Cary turned to go tell someone Cannon was still upstairs.

"Then Kathleen started to freak and screamed that the screen was popping out," Cary said.

Cary whirled back around, and sure enough, the corner had popped out. In the next instant, the entire screen came loose and sent Cannon flying through the air. That's when Cary stepped forward and made the catch of his life ... not to mention the catch of Cannon's life. The force of the fall knocked Cary down to a sitting position, but he held on to his best friend's little brother.

"Kathleen walked into the house, and you could see the fear in her eyes and hear it in her voice as she told us, 'Cannon just fell out the window!' " said Tyson Jamison, Cannon's father.

"But I caught him," Cary tried to reassure, as he entered right behind Kathleen cradling Cannon like 
an infant.

Stunned, it took a moment for the words to sink in. Then Christine grabbed Cannon, who was crying, and stripped him down to check for blood and broken bones. Tyson, meanwhile, ran outside. Chills crawled up his spine as he saw the window screen lying ominously in the driveway.

"I stood there a second in disbelief," Tyson said. "I knew my son had just been a hair away from death."

Tyson ran back inside the house where Christie had carefully looked over her baby boy.

"I was in shock," Christie said as her eyes welled up. "Everything goes through your mind. Does he have internal bleeding? Is something broken? And at the same time, you're just thankful he's alive."

His parents only found a small scrape near Cannon's hairline. Nevertheless, they took him to the emergency room to be sure.

"He was perfectly fine," Christie said with a sigh of relief. "We were lucky Cary had such an amazing reaction. He's our hero."

When word got out about the incident, the Jamison's had to think about whether or not they'd talk to the media.

"At first you feel like an awful parent for letting something like that happen," Christie said. "But any parent knows it only takes a second of distraction for something bad to happen. And we felt strongly that we needed to advise other people to put locks on their windows. We didn't want this to happen to anyone else. It was a big 

While the Jamison's had thought to put child locks on all of the cabinets in their house, it hadn't occurred to them to childproof their windows. The morning after the incident, Tyson purchased childproof locks for the windows and installed them that same day. Now the windows can only raise about 5 inches without an adult.

That should keep Cannon, who loves airplanes, from taking his second "flight" anytime soon.

As for Cary, he says all the media attention has been both "cool" and "weird."

"At school they are calling me a hero, and a boy from New Jersey said he saw me on CNN," Cary said, flashing his braces as he smiled shyly.

As far as a future football career goes, Cary says his mind is definitely made up.

"I'm going to stick with skateboarding," he said.

After all, how does one top "The Catch?"