David Bruce: Don’t Fear the Reaper — Heroes


• In April 2011 a 44-year-old tourist named Helen Beard, from Worksop, England, saw a one-year-old toddler dangling from the fourth-floor balcony of an Econo Lodge hotel in Orlando, Florida. She ran beneath the balcony and watched as the toddler fell, striking the third-floor balcony. Ms. Beard managed to break the fall of the toddler, who was taken to a hospital. The child’s mother, 20-year-old Helena Myles, said, “I’m thanking the Lord above right now for saving my child’s life. I’m also thanking that lady because she was an angel sent from heaven.” She added about her daughter, Jah-Nea, “She’s perfectly fine. Not a scratch on her body.” Ms. Myles said that a friend had been watching Jah-Nea at the time of the fall. She said, “I’m not upset with anyone. I’ve had it out with my friends. But other than that, I’m thanking God right now that my child’s here.” Ms. Beard said that she is not a hero: “Absolutely not. I did what needed to be done. I didn’t want a fuss. Anyone would have done it. I think you just act instinctively. I ran. I knew I needed to catch her. I had to do something. I guess I was hoping someone else would catch her, but I was the one who was there.” Orlando authorities awarded Ms. Beard a Medal of Merit. Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said, “Mrs. Beard showed unusual instinct and initiative when she exited from the swimming pool area and was able to catch the child as she fell, thus saving her from extreme physical injuries and/or death.”

• San Quentin State Prison has convicts who are also heroes. Selected nonviolent offenders are trained to be paramedics and firefighters. They live in a firehouse outside the prison walls but are still on prison property. They respond to emergency calls, including calls from prison and from San Francisco Bay. In April 2011 the prison emergency workers succeeded in saving the life of a woman in her 40s (no name given), but unfortunately they could not save the life of 44-year-old James Laurel. The couple had been boating. Mr. Laurel tried to start the engine and fell overboard in the bay. When he tried to get back in the boat, he capsized it and it sank. The couple were in the water for approximately 90 minutes, and Mr. Laurel was not wearing a life vest. A tower guard heard a cry for help and then sent the convict emergency workers to try to save the couple. They saved the woman, but Mr. Laurel was pronounced dead at Marin General Hospital. Prisoner Derrick Edgerly dove into the water to try to save the couple. He said, “I took my turnouts [a firefighter’s protective clothing] off, went over the wall and went into the Bay. There was no fear or hesitation. The guy needed help.” Mr. Edgerly added, “It’s an opportunity out here to show people that even though we made a mistake and we have some debt to society, we are still human beings, and we care for people and want to help people.”

• When mixed martial arts fighter Jon Jones and his trainers, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, saw a theft in progress in the streets of Paterson, New Jersey, they took action. The thief was breaking into a car and taking items. The three men shouted at the thief, who started to run away. They chased him and Mr. Jones, the youngest of the three men, caught him first and tripped him. The other two men made sure that the thief was not armed. While subduing the thief, the three men used mixed martial arts techniques: foot sweep, double-leg, and arm bar. Police then arrived and arrested the suspect. Almost eight hours after chasing the burglar, Mr. Jones defeated Mauricio Rua with a third-round TKO in a mixed martial arts fight. By the way, when the three men saw the theft in progress, they were on the way to a waterfall to meditate. After subduing the thief, they made it to the waterfall. Mr. Jackson said, “It was an incredibly beautiful waterfall.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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