Mike Bible, an 18-year-old Explorer Scout who works part-time at a Springfield gas station, took time off Wednesday from repairing a truck to save the life of an eight-year-old boy.

Someone ran to the gas station at 6 p.m. Wednesday and tole Bible that people were hurt in a nearby car accident. Bible grabbed a first-aid kit and sprinted to the scene on Newington Road near Interstate 95.

Bible had begun checking the accident victims for bleeding when he heard Chance Gates, 8, gasping for air in the back seat of a twisted car.

"When he firs started gasping, I started to think about what I'd do if he stopped breathing," said Bible, a Hayfield High School senior who lives near Fort Belvoir. Seconds later, the boy stopped breathing.

"I automatically assumed he was dead because he wasn't breathing," said Fairfax County police officer Richard Shaffer, the first policeman on the scene of the three-car accident. Gates' mother, Gwendolyn Rasmussen, says she too remembers thinking her son had died.

He "seemed to be just a big crumpled up mess, like a broken toy," she said.

Bible squirmed into the wreckage and, jamming his fingers into Gates' month, cleared the boy's windpipe. Then he helped Gates to begin breathing again. "I had to be careful because it looked like he might have a neck injury," Bible said.

Bible kept the boy's windpipe open with his fingers until rescue squad workers could free Gates and take him to Fairfax Hospitl. Doctors there told Mrs. Rasmussen and her husband James that Bible's quick action had saved their son's life.

Gates regained consciousness yesterday. A hospital spokesman said Gates had sustained a concussion and minor cuts, but was in good condition.

Bible, who has been nominated for the Scouts' lifesaving medal for the rescue, said the incident has taught him the value of first-aid training.

Also injured in the accident were Gwendolyn Rasmussen, Robert Gates, 12, and Michael Rasmussen, 17 months.