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911 call makes a 'Hero of the Day' 5-year-old summons help after her 'Nana' slips on driveway ice

Little LanieBelle Masset wore a big gold star that read "Hero of the Day" all day Friday at kindergarten in Colden Elementary School.

And for good reason.

Lanie saved her Nana the day before -- by calling 911 all by herself.

"Five years old and a smart little cookie," her proud and grateful grandmother, Joan Loewke, 68, told The Buffalo News. "I love her dearly."

At about 4 p.m. Thursday, Loewke, who cares for Lanie and her 1-year-old sister, Aurora, while their parents are at work, walked out to the end of their 350-foot driveway on Hayes Hollow Road to meet Lanie as she got off her school bus.

"I managed to get her off the bus, no problem," Loewke said.

But as the two headed back up the driveway to the house, where baby Aurora was napping, they ran into trouble.

"We have a long driveway and it was very icy," Loewke said.

Loewke, who broke her leg a year earlier and is still having trouble walking, slipped on the ice.

"I couldn't get myself off the ice," she said.

Lanie tried pulling her grandma, but to no avail.

"What can a little 40-pounder do?" Loewke said.

Hesitant to cause a fuss, Loewke told her granddaughter not to worry and that she'd figure a way to crawl or scoot up the driveway to the house.

But Lanie would have none of that.

"No, Nana," the headstrong child told her grandmother, Loewke recounted. "I'm going to the house. I'm going to call 911."

Lanie ran to the house and went to the kitchen. She managed to pull a child-sized table to the counter by the phone, according to her mother, Jill Masset.

Lanie apparently climbed up on the table, picked up the portable phone, pressed the "TALK" button and dialed 911.

The little girl later described to her mother how she told the emergency dispatcher, "My Nana fell."

Loewke said within just a couple of minutes, firefighters, state police and paramedics were at her side and helped her to her feet.

Luckily, Loewke hadn't broken any bones and didn't need to go to the hospital.

"No problems," she said.

But she quickly realized Lanie was nowhere in sight. Loewke and the emergency workers raced to the house and Loewke began calling out to Lanie.

They soon heard the sound of the little girl crying.

"She was hiding in the bathtub," Loewke said. "She was scared to death."

Loewke and the emergency workers tried to calm Lanie down.

"We said, 'You're a hero. You did the right thing,' " her grandmother said.

Among those who came to comfort Lanie was Kathy Grannell, her school nurse, who lives nearby.

Jill Masset didn't know about the incident until a couple of hours later, when she came home and found a mysterious amount of water and mud on her floors. She asked Lanie and Loewke what had happened.

"They said I'm a hero," her daughter triumphantly told her. .

Masset checked her phone messages and sure enough, there was a message from the 911 dispatcher who had called back to say that help was on the way and asking for another phone call to make sure everything was OK.

Masset had taught Lanie about 911.

She also knew that Colden Elementary makes sure their pupils know about 911 and teaches them to memorize their home phone number and address.

"In October we have fire prevention week," said Principal Jack Mann. "The teachers stress 911 protocol. We have plastic phones to practice with."

On Friday, Grannell told Mann what Lanie had done and they decided to do something special for her.

Lanie was featured during the school announcements, which are broadcast on closed-circuit TV. She was also presented with a certificate and her fancy gold star.

"We used this as a teaching moment so all kids can recognize the importance of calling 911," Mann said. "Because you never know . . . "

e-mail: mbecker@buffnews.com

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