We could use to hear more about everyday heroes, even tragic ones…

I’m sort of loathe to hit publish on this.

I’ve been feeling sort of blah this week, and I don’t really know why. I’m not down or anything, just indifferent I guess, especially towards blogging. Maybe it’s all the snow and cold, who knows?

This post is a total buzzkill, so if you’re looking for a laugh, please turn away as there are none to be had here today. There’s not really a point to it, other than writing makes me feel a little better, like I’m accomplishing something, so there’s that.

Almost all of the information below, along with both pictures, came from the St. Louis Post Dispatch articles written about the same thing.

——————————————————————————————-

On an otherwise typical May afternoon in 2010 , two St. Louis area men were driving in separate cars along a road that parallels a river that basically separates the City from the County here in St. Louis. This particular river, the River Des Peres, varies in water depth almost daily. It could be bone dry in the morning, only to have its banks swelled with running water later in the day, after a good rain storm.

On this particular day, the river was fairly deep.

The two men, one just returning to work from his lunch break, and the other unemployed, both noticed what they recognized as a car protruding from the river. It was obvious to them that the car had just left the road and gone into the water.

The water is murky and cold, but both men react by pulling over and jumping into the river to free the driver, if they can. A police officer arrives and the three of them are able to pull the driver from the river, still alive, to waiting paramedics.

The men are understandably excited from adrenalin rushing through their bodies while talking to officers about what they saw and what they did.

Divers from the fire department arrive at the scene to do what they do.

About a half hour later, as the men are still talking on the banks of the river, they are suddenly deflated to see fire fighters and paramedics  emerge from the river with one more casualty.

Photo source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

Photo source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

A sheet over anything at a crime scene almost always means death. The bulging shape under the sheet is immediately recognizable to people who see it as being a car seat.

All the adrenalin that had folks amped up just seconds before is sucked right from their insides and is discarded as gasps of disbelief out of their mouths.

The baby in the car seat was seven months old.

Rest in peace little man.

Rest in peace little man. Photo source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

The car seat was strapped into the back seat of the car and was impossible to see under the murky water. Even so, the men can’t help but question themselves about what more they could have done.

The driver of the car was the boy’s young father. He would die two weeks later as a result of this accident.

Months later, while receiving one of several awards from the community for their heroic efforts in trying to help a total stranger whose life was in danger, the two men are still clearly affected by this incident.

One man has generally avoided the media on purpose, while the other granted interviews and admitted that he still has nightmares about the drowning and has panic attacks or otherwise simply becomes overwhelmed by his feelings.

In some respects, police officers and firefighters are lucky that there are always other calls like this that will need to be handled. Whereas the two civilian men may never find themselves in another situation where they could save a life, emergency workers will, and have the luxury of forgetting past “failures” and putting forth our best efforts to “win” the next time. There isn’t time to worry about what could have been.

I very rarely think back to any incident I handled and worry about what I could have done differently. I would generally just swallow my feelings about an emotional incident, have a few beers after work maybe, and then move on with life. Occasionally, I’d talk about it with my wife or another cop, if they were there too, but not very often.

For whatever reason, the scene described above has been on my mind, off and on, for three years. I got choked up a little bit even revisiting the incident today. I wasn’t at this scene and had nothing to do with any of it. I know the officer who jumped in to try to save the driver, but I’ve never asked him about it once. I meant to send him a message to tell him I was proud of his efforts, but I don’t even think I did that. Maybe I kept thinking about it because when this happened, G$ was just a few months older than the baby who died and I was reminded of it every time I saw G$ strapped in his car seat. Maybe it was because that location was so close to where I lived and I’ve driven past it thousands of times in my life. Maybe it’s because not long after this boy died, another child was found dead across the street in the same area. He was allegedly killed by his own mother, who faked an abduction to try to cover the crime. It’s normally such a quiet area, so these events were strange occurrences.

The world can seem like such a cold and shitty place. Turn on the news and it’s one story after another about things like this or about people hurting other people.

That stuff sells, and I get that, but it can be overwhelmingly negative and deflating after a while.

Maybe my mind keeps reminding me of this terrible incident because on one otherwise typical May afternoon, in my little part of the world, two strangers risked their lives to try to save another stranger from dying. That sort of thing happens a lot, really. A lot of people do like to help other people.

That doesn’t sell as well as death and hate; I get that.

Actually, no, I don’t get that. I can read about good Samaritan stories all day long.

Surely, I’m not the only one, am I?

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82 Responses to We could use to hear more about everyday heroes, even tragic ones…

  1. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Reblogged this on myatheistlife and commented:
    Here is one to make you think… I enjoyed it.

  3. markbialczak says:

    Thank you, Don, for sharing the root of your dark mood. Even the most noble efforts do not end successfully, but that does not render them any less significant. I understand why this story still nibbles at you from that place you store the unspeakable. I hope voicing it at last makes you feel less shitty. It made me think about the good and the bad.

  4. Maggie O'C says:

    No, you are not the only one.

  5. I think it is the weather because I’ve been feeling the same way. Good Samaritan stories for as much as they warm our hearts,they don’t sell for some reason and they should. While this one didn’t have the happy ending that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it reminds us of our humanity and the fragility of life. We all need this reminder once in a while because the world seems to have no respect for humanity anymore and life seems easily disposable.

  6. Oh, Don. I don’t know where to start. These kind of stories make my heart stutter a little. I just told my husband the other day that driving on bridges never bothered me until I had children in the back, and now every single time, I make a plan as to what I would do if we ended up in the water below. You and your colleagues risk your life everyday, which all too often goes unnoticed, and although we hear these stories on the news, most of us civilians don’t live them the way you do. Thanks for sharing. And thank you for what you do for strangers like me.

    • My own kids changed my perspective about policing for sure. I think for the better. I’m much more patient and understanding with people than I once was.

      The bridges over water sure are spooky though…seriously!!

      You’re no stranger anymore…you’re my weirdo friend who met Ice T now…lol.

  7. I’d much rather hear about good Samaritans, even if their attempts to save don’t work out. We need to be reminded that there is good in this world; it gives us hope and encourages us to do good things, as well. As for those two men, I pray that they’ll realize someday that there was nothing they could do, that God had a plan that day, but that He’s probably very pleased that they took the risk they did. Maybe their role wasn’t to save a life but to get a lesson in courage and love. I hope that will give them some comfort.

  8. Twindaddy says:

    No, you’re not, Don. I don’t watch the news at all because it’s all doom and gloom. I’m tired of all the negativity and I might be more interested in the news if they would show the humane side of humanity more often.

  9. findingninee says:

    I’d much rather read Good Samaritan stories. Ever since becoming a parent, I can’t handle any of the stories about little kids or babies not being okay. So I never watch the news, really.
    Hope you’re feeling less blah.

    • Yeah, those darned kids! Mine made my whole attitude about policing and what I saw on patrol change, probably for the better, honestly. Thank you for the cheers, I’m going to Bud Light Lime myself out of my blahs tonight I think.

  10. You are not alone in your thoughts, my Bud Light Lime drinking friend. We hear all too much about the shittiness of life, how awful human beings can be toward one another and sometimes the stories seem never ending. While this situation had a terrible outcome, knowing that two complete strangers stopped at nothing to save a life it is a good reminder of the good Samaritans among us. And along with the good Samaritans are folks like you and your colleagues who do this daily. Thanks to you, for all that you do.

  11. We hardly watch news at home and when we do, it’s only to check weather reports.
    So sad to hear about the baby. They did what they coyld but perhaps God had a different plan. It is very good to know that many would, with no hesitations, risk their lives to save others. Bless their hearts. And yours too.

    • We accidentally left the tv on the other night during dinner and the first 10 minutes of the 6 o’clock news was literally one pisser bit after another. I had to get up and turn it off before the kids became as jaded as me just from watching the news. Lol. THank you!

  12. Paul says:

    Very sad and thought provoking piece Don. As a long-haul driver I’ve seen people risk all to help others at accident scenes and have, upon occassion, been able to participate. It is truly a sense of immediacy, irrelevant of outcome. It seems to be a part of us all to help. It is so sad to get someone out of immediate danger and then watch helplessly as they die of injuries received. Or see the bodies of those who were beyond rescue. Or walk up and down a dark, deserted rural road looking in the ditches for more victims. The picture of the little guy who didn’t survive in your post touched a very sad place in my heart. I guess the only way I can internalize such stories is with a solid belief that there is much more beyond this physical life and that in the end it will be made right and fair with love.

    • Thanks, Paul, it was a really sad situation that has just stuck with me for some reason or other. I bet you’ve seen all sorts of crazy on the road. Here’s to hoping there’s something better in the great beyond, my friend.

  13. Mental Mama says:

    I pretty well despise “news” outlets because of their preference for reporting on all of the shit that happens in favor of covering the great things that happen all over this country. So much better for them to talk about how many shootings, murders, robberies, house fires, drug busts, and SPORTS. For the love of all that is holy, I hate hearing about sports. Give me stupid pictures of kittens all day long over any of that garbage.

  14. goldfish says:

    How sad. It is heartwarming that there are ordinary heroes out there in addition to law enforcement and emergency services who are heroes all the time.

  15. No Don, no you are not. Very moving post. I feel sorry for everyone involved. The poor poor innocent baby and those 3 great men who did their best to save someone. I have no doubt they did everything they could. Sometimes life just seems to have other plans.

  16. rebecca2000 says:

    There are lots of stories of putting themselves in harms way to help others. It’s much easier to pass something than to help. This story isn’t a downer nor funny. It is uplifting to see humankind reach out and help. Thanks for sharing. I says a lot about you that this still rests in your heart.

  17. Merridy says:

    Thank you so much for posting.. It is just so depressing.. Its reason like this that I can;t read the news or watch it.. I find that there is enough out there I am exposed to that make me super sad..

    The only thing you can do is to hug your little ones and pray that one day there will no longer be tragedy.

  18. Rhonda says:

    I do believe people are innately good and will go out of their way to help others out. It’s not always to the degree your talk about here, but whatever they are able to do, people usually do it. It’s unfortunate we don’t hear more of these types of stories. Although, after reading this, I have a sadness that’s lingering, but how can you not when thinking about a dad and a baby who didn’t make it through, even when people did the best they could to help.

    • Oh I think most people are good, deep down, or at least they want to be good. Maybe they don’t know how sometimes, but given the chance, I think most people want to help others out. I hope so at least. I feel bad for these guys who did their best but still doubt themselves instead of applaud themselves.

  19. Lovely, if sad, post. Very tragic, and I can’t imagine how those men feel. I think I would cry for days afterward and chastise myself for not doing this or that. I hope your dark mood is lifted somewhat.

    I understand the news media. No, like you I do not. Who needs to see death and destruction and deceit 24 hours a day every day. There should be a news source devoted to nothing but good news and heart warming stories. And puppies. Everyone loves puppies.

    • Puppie!! Who doesn’t like puppies for God’s sake??!! There are so many people who want to see and read about good deeds. Even something as simple as a guy finding money in a shopping cart and turning it in instead of keeping it is uplifting, so put them out there for us!! Thank you.

  20. tric says:

    Thanks Don! Tough post. I know what you mean by a thought or a memory such as this lingering and even on the brightest of days bringing you down. Working in the police, ambulance and hospital environments we see death far too often. It is not possible to just dismiss it. However as I’m sure you know in maybe days or weeks this memory will cease to take centre stage, at least for a while.
    Hope it happens for you soon. We are so lucky though. As I look at my four healthy children and know my friend now has only three I am deeply saddened, but I do take time to think I am lucky.
    Long may our luck hold.
    I think we’ll have a drink to that, Clink glasses your bud light to my wine, ( a large one!)

    • I enjoyed our drink together, tric! I think about you and your little friend from time to time and I hope you’re in a good place in spite of your friend’s loss. We are lucky, both of us, that’s for sure! Thank you for being my online, strange, Irish friend.

  21. barbtaub says:

    Huh. The funny thing is that I think of you as a hero, along with other emergency responders who just keep going to work, doing their jobs, being heroes.

  22. lrconsiderer says:

    Sensationalism sells. Horror sells. Tragedy sells. I think in part so we can all take a collective breath and thank our lucky stars it wasn’t us – it can give us a fresh sense of appreciation for the things and people we enjoy.

    But it’s heartbreaking. And tawdry when lives are treated so cheaply in reporting, to gain profit.

    I try not to engage with the news. It’s too upsetting. I think that’s one of the reasons I love the Blogosphere so much – it’s not Big News, but it is Important and Real and (mostly) True stories of people, written by *them*, about their victories and their efforts to somehow change things for better. And even when they write that they screwed up, or that they made a mistake, and you get to see the thought process of them putting themselves back together ready to try again, to do it right…that’s amazing. That’s what I want going into my head.

    • Your observation about the blogosphere is spot on, Lizzi. Thank you. While I love to razz and harass you, I’m glad to have found you online. You keep me honest and I appreciate your excellent posts and feedback.

      • lrconsiderer says:

        Ah but the razzing and harassing is fun and all part of the game 🙂 I’m glad I found you, too. You write Real. And that’s Good. 🙂 Glad you appreciate the feedback 🙂

  23. No, you are not the only one. I stopped watching the news and then t.v. altogether because it was so negative, so horrible, so heartbreaking and even though I was thousands of miles away it all effected me and it just really brings you down and like you, I get it, horrible life stories sell but wouldn’t it be wonderful if happy life stories sold? There’s so much joy to be found and had in this world, I choose joy.. Aside from my Netflix addiction to creepy crime shows.. 😉

    • Lol, creepy crime shows…

      There really are enough good things going on in the world that the news could be a happy show to watch, but that’s not what works up the masses and keeps their attention, I guess. All the negativity just gets to be so mind numbing at times. Thank you!

  24. ardenrr says:

    I’m totally with you. I don’t watch the news at all. The only news I get is from online and I try to only read stories like this. Sure, it’s horrifically sad but knowing there are people out there like those two who jumped in the river makes me feel good about the world when there isn’t a lot to feel good about anymore.

    • Thank you Arden! I agree with you 100%. I proactively pick and choose the news articles I watch and read. Those guys did the best they could and it was above and beyond what should be expected of them. I hope they see and believe that in their hearts.

  25. Mike Vogler says:

    I don’t consider it a buzzkill at all, Don. I believe it’s important for all of us to have a continual reminder of how temporary, brittle and fragile life is. Been there, buddy. It’s why to this day I tell anyone and everyone (family, friend, co-worker, acquaintance) upon leaving their presence, “Please drive home safe.” Thank you for sharing, sir…

    • Thanks, Mike. Life can be so harsh sometimes. We get so busy and caught up in trying to survive that we forget that. A little reminder that life’s short and we need to cherish it is a good thing.

  26. not the only one. what those men did remind me that there is good and it fills me with emotion just to relive it through your words. and the baby… oh… there’s a story I never need to hear.

    • It was a terrible story and a shame that it ever happened. For a long time I couldn’t help but think about my own boys in their car seats and I wondered what must have been going on inside that car when it went in the river. Were they both asleep? I like to believe they were, yes. The baby wasn’t screaming and looking at his daddy as the water made it’s way to his chin and then over his head. He was sleeping. He never knew what happened and died peacefully. Right?

      • you’re freaking killing me! i did the same thing over and over with that horrible wreck a year or so ago with the aunt/mom driving her son and nieces and wound up going the wrong way on the expressway.. killing everyone. i can’t even imagine.. please stop imagining. it’ll drive you crazy. there’s enough in the world to worry about every day. now have a beer, go for a run and watch some cartoons.

  27. I’d so much rather hear about the positive aspects of humanity than the negative. I think we see more than our fair share of all the bad and begin to believe that the world is a pretty horrible place. It would be great to have the Good Sam stories on the front page every now and again. As for the two guys? I can only imagine their survivors guilt…because it’s there whether you knew the person or not..their lives were irrevocably changed in that moment by someone they didn’t even know.

    • They were changed, and I hope for the better in the end. They did their best and more than many would have even offered to do. I hope they believe that in their heart of hearts. Most people want to do the right thing and a lot of people are doing good things. Let’s hear about them people, right?

  28. bethteliho says:

    Brutal story, but I understand why you posted it. I “get” the mood you’re in. I go there sometimes, too. I hope you get your cheery back soon, my friend.

    We don’t watch the news in our house. My extended family is always saying “didn’t you know about xxx?” and we’re all, NOPE. Ignorance is bliss.

    • Yeah, we’re out of the loop as well, and it doesn’t bother me at all. I had some beers alst night, so that helped, as did these comments. I’m feeling better already. Thanks, Beth. I’m glad I found you in the Blogosphere.

  29. mollytopia says:

    Ugggggg. This is heartbreaking and harrowing. It makes perfect sense that the heroes of that day continued to role the tape over and over again in their minds wondering what they could have done differently or what it all means. I’m so sorry to hear about these incidents so close to home for you, literally. I don’t know you police officers see that stuff happen all the time. You’re amazing. And yes, I would prefer to read the good samaritan stories also. No news for me – it’s too sad and/or stupid. Great post Don.

  30. I think about stuff like this all the time. I imagine similar scenarios, and how I would get all 3 of my kids out of the car quickly. I can understand why it haunts the men involved, and even why it would affect you too. So tragic and sad. Thanks for possibly giving me nightmares tonight. 😉

  31. Jean says:

    It takes mental strength to look at the positive side of this situation. Had I known where this story was going, I probably wouldn’t have read it through. I don’t have a lot of strength for stories like this because they stick with me for a long time and I avoid them generally and that is a weakness of mine. We do need more positive stories out there, Don. Who’s to say blogs can’t help fill that void?

  32. I’ve been down lately with the winter blahs and particularly sensitive to tragic events (watching the news too much). This made me very sad. But it’s important to recognize the real heroes among us.

  33. djmatticus says:

    Thank you for reminding us that there are still good people out there. I hope those two good samaritans find some peace eventually.

  34. Such a thoughtful post. On one hand I am saddened by the outcome, yet am overwhelmed by the actions of the samaritans.

  35. dishofdailylife says:

    I’d rather hear Good Samaritan stories all day long, but this one brought tears to my eyes. I can’t even imagine what those poor men are going through right now as well as the family that lost their loved ones. I hope they can all find some peace. Thank you for sharing.

  36. How very sad 😦 This was such a poignant post, and thank you for taking the time to write it. I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

    I can’t read stories about children dying, being hurt… actually, I can’t read stories about children or pets or husbands or parents anymore, unless the stories are happy-joy-lemonade-ending stories. I can imagine whatever the bad thing is, happening to my own. And people say, ‘oh, it’s just the hormones, and they settle down once your babies get older…’ and my youngest is 18 months, and sure, I don’t burst into tears watching Meerkat Manor anymore, but still, I think having children has irrevocably changed me. For the better, maybe, because I don’t want to spread the tragedy. You know how people love to gossip about things, and kind of revel in the drama? Nup. I don’t want drama. I want cuddles with my children, and long, healthy, boring lives.

  37. Dana says:

    Don, I live 10 minutes from the mall shooting that took place a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning. All over the news, of course, and I don’t know if my kids will ever want to go there again. Yet there was plenty of media coverage about the first responders, and the people who helped each other in the mall, and the way the community has pulled together in the aftermath. I was so glad to read and see all of that – it made me feel like the good people and the good things do outnumber the bad.And maybe my kids will be a little less scared.

  38. rynolexson says:

    Sharing is caring Don, at least you are not a total A-hole. I hope you jump out of your mood soon or else I am sending a therapist to your house. That was the nicest, most sincere comment I could think of in addition to this one: You are a good person. Phew, I said it.

  39. Nadia says:

    This one was a tear jerker, Don. It is so good to hear that people are willing to risk their lives for others in this day and age, but so sad that a family had lost two loved ones and these unsung heroes their peace.
    Where I come from there are daily murders, rapes and hijackings in broad daylight, and passersby simply walk by and do nothing. We need more people like these two men.

  40. PinotNinja says:

    Despite all of the bad, it’s amazing that just about every human finds a way to be good, whether its helping, remembering, or even just noticing.

  41. The Hook says:

    You’re far from alone, Don. Thanks for the wonderful share.

  42. Katia says:

    You’re not alone. I don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation, I’m sure “press is cynical” was already covered before me, but I just wanted you to know that I completely agree. I’m sure kindness and selflessness would sell as much as death if we gave them chance to.

  43. These kinds of stories always kill but I’m drawn to them like a moth to a flame. I’m also feeling very indifferent about blogging now to. Must be the weather.

  44. pegoleg says:

    I think we have to hold onto that last part. That there are many people – really a LOT of people – who would and do risk themselves to help others.

    I went home Tuesday with a rotten cold and couldn’t get up our steep, snowy driveway. I slid back down and got super-stuck in the heavy, wet snow at the bottom. I trudged up to the house to put away the groceries, sniffling and crying, then came back out of the garage with my shovel to go work on the car…and a man was standing there. He had been driving by on the deserted road, saw my difficulty and walked up to see if he could help. He attached a line and towed me out.

    That’s not life or death. It’s not news-worthy. But something as simple as this lifted my spirits like I can’t explain. There are a lot of kind people in the world, Don. Hope you feel more cheery soon.

  45. Hey Don, hope you are coming out of the winter blues okay. This time of year just sucks doesn’t it? Too dark, too slushy.
    Good post for this time of year. Helps to have a cathartic cry. The picture of the baby seat on the stretcher just makes my heart hurt…

  46. You’re definitely not the only one. I just found your blog today and have read several posts. Real honest writing there…..I’ll be back. Have a great day DOAT.

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