David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Heroes

Heroes

• In November 2002, Dustin Baker, age 12, was at the Redlands Municipal Airport in Redlands, California. A pilot in a blue ultra-light aircraft took off, but it lost a wheel in the process. Without that wheel, the pilot would have a hard time landing the plane, and if the pilot did not know that the wheel was missing and tried to land the plane at the usual speed, the landing could be fatal. Dustin and a woman at the airport tried making a sign — “LANDING GEAR OFF” — to alert the pilot about the missing wheel, but the wind knocked it over. Therefore, Dustin grabbed the wheel and drove a yellow GMC truck equipped with sirens, lights, and fire extinguishers onto the runway. When the pilot approached the runway, Dustin turned on the truck’s emergency lights and waved the wheel in the air to show the pilot that it had fallen off his plane. Dustin said, “When he flew by, I stood on top of the truck and showed the pilot the wheel.” The pilot slowed down and landed safely. Pilot Randy Lehfeldt said about Dustin’s action, “I think it was very heroic. He was a take-charge guy.” He added, “Dustin’s a hero in my eyes.” Police spokeswoman Renee Groese said, “For a 12-year-old to be so alert and attentive to what’s going on, he really did a great thing.” Dustin’s mother, Lita, said, “That’s Dustin. He’s so attentive and inquisitive. I’m not surprised, but I’m very proud.” Lita added about her son, “He thought he was going to be arrested for driving the truck.” However, police spokeswoman Renee Groese said, “The Police Department wants to recognize the achievements of people, especially young people, when they do good deeds such as these.” Dustin’s father, Steve, said, “We’ve always been extremely proud of him. He’s a 45-year-old trapped in a 12-year-old’s body.”

• In November 2005, Rosalia DeSantis, age 58, grew dizzy and fell onto a Toronto (Canada) Transit Commission subway track. Fortunately, Theo Parusis, age 25, and Alvaro Mejia, age 26, jumped onto the tracks and rescued her seconds before a train came into the station. The three people met later at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. Ms. DeSantis stated, “I said, ‘Thank you, because you are my angels. I’m so happy you were there at the time.’ I think they’re fantastic. I call them my angels. Yes, they are, they deserve all the credit.” Mr. Mejia said, “I don’t know what to say. I don’t feel like a hero. I just saved a life.” Mr. Parusis said, “I wouldn’t say ‘hero.’ It’s just a part of what we should be. If we all helped each other, it would be a much better place.” Ms. DeSantis, a secretary, added, “I’m very happy they were there, and I thank God they were there to help me.” Mr. Parusis, a warehouse worker, remembered, “My initial reaction was to jump down and check if she was still alive. I tried to bring her up, but I struggled, so [Mr. Mejia] jumped down and attempted to help me. And an incoming train was coming. As soon as we saw the incoming train, we panicked and we just got an adrenalin rush and managed to get her up in time. Five seconds later, the train just passed by.” Mr. Mejia, who had arrived from Colombia two months previously as a refugee, said, “I didn’t think [about] anything, I just tried to help him.” Mr. Parusis said, “I just jumped, there’s no thought. It all happened so quickly. Of course, if I was in that situation, I hope someone would do the same thing.” Toronto Police Constable Scott Villers of 13 Division said that “what they did was incredible.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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