Isiah Church’s stepfather, Glenn Church, was driving a moving van from Michigan to Texas with Isiah and his sleeping 2-year-old brother, Jeremiah Church, on October 14 when the vehicle was involved in a fatal, fiery accident.
Glenn was killed instantly in the crash and Jeremiah became trapped under the van. Isiah dug through debris, found his toddler brother and pulled him to safety.
“He’s an amazing little man,” the boys’ grandmother, Sandi Watkins, tells PEOPLE. “He’s always watching out for his little brother. He loves his brother so much.”
Jeremiah suffered second and third degree burns in the horrific accident with a majority of the skin damage located on his arms, chest and face. He received a skin grafting operation on Friday at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston.
“It’s amazing that these two children made it out alive, truly a miracle,” says Watkins. “Jeremiah is doing phenomenally, he looks better every single day.”
The boys’ mother, whom Watkins would like to remain anonymous, was driving in a car ahead and is currently hospitalized for emotional trauma. An investigation into the cause of the accident is underway by the Houston Police Department.
“The boys lost everything they had in that fire,” says Watkins. “So we’re just taking it one day at a time now. Isiah is doing absolutely amazing, he’s talking to a psychologist and we don’t bring up the accident.”
Watkins says Isiah saw his brother for the first time on Friday.
“We didn’t think he would be able to handle seeing Jeremiah up close with all the burns, so we had him stand 30 feet away and say hello,” she explains. “That night he said ‘Nana I can’t believe baby Jeremiah is alive! I want to give him a great big kiss and hug!’
Houston Police Department acting chief Martha I. Montalvo presented Isiah with a public service award, silver badge and backpack with toys for his actions.
“Isiah Church is a hero in my eyes. This was a tragic event and, as a mother myself, as a parent, I was touched by what this child did. He didn’t think of himself, but thought of his brother,” Montalvo tells PEOPLE. “Isiah had been ejected from the vehicle and, I’m told, he motioned to his brother to get out of the vehicle that was on fire. When his brother didn’t, Isiah found a way to get the door and got his brother out. He lost his dad in the accident, who had been ejected, but he still thought of his brother first.”
“As police officers, we’re trained what to do, but Isiah already knew. I told him to come back in a few more years, we need police officers like him.”
Watkins was able to get custody of the boys with help from Houston notary Tracee Jordan who read about the accident on the local news.
“I knew I had to help out this family they have been through so much it absolutely broke my heart,” Jordan tells PEOPLE. “I have been staying by Sandi’s side helping her cope and deal with everything.”
Jordan set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the boys and agreed to help the family with all necessary paperwork for free.
“Through this tragedy we have received the most amazing support from kind strangers,” says Watkins. “Isiah and Jeremiah will be okay in the end, they are strong and they’ll get through this together.”