David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Heroes

Heroes

• On 3 August 2003 in Oakland, California, Edie Dodds was driving a minivan that crashed after she felt her shoulder, she said, “pop out of its socket.” The car hit another car and then rolled over, coming to a stop upside-down. Edie said, “The only thing that stopped us from going over the embankment was a parked Volvo.” In the car with her were her nine-year-old son, Keither, and her six-year-old daughter, Eden. Keither smelled smoke and was worried about the minivan catching on fire. Edie was only semi-conscious after the accident, so Keither unbuckled her seat belt and his sister’s seat belt to get them out of the minivan. He said, “I was sort of shocked. I’ve never been in an accident that bad. But all I thought about was helping my mom and my sister and trying to get out of the car.” After getting his sister and his mother out of the minivan, Keither borrowed a cell phone and called his father, Oakland police officer Keith Dodds. Edie said, “The amazing part to me was that this little boy kept his composure throughout the whole thing.” When Keither’s father arrived, he was surprised to see that the minivan was totaled; Keither had been so calm on the phone that his father did not think that the accident had been as serious as it was. Keither, a 4th-grader, is a conflict manager at Joaquin Miller Elementary. He said, “I solve problems as a conflict manager. I break up fights and help, like when my friend scraped his knee.” He also once helped a little girl who was suffering an asthma attack. His father said, “I’m very proud of him. He worked through a serious emergency like that. I know conflict management has helped him.”

• In 2002 in St. Louis, Missouri, Doris Householder fell asleep while driving after working the night shift and crashed her pickup into the concrete base of a traffic sign. She was badly injured, and her pickup caught on fire. Ms. Householder remembers, “When I woke up, I could see four guys yelling to each other, ‘Get away from the truck! It’s going to blow up!’ I’m screaming, ‘No! Help! Don’t let me burn alive!’” Coming to the rescue were Mary Whitehead, a homeless woman, and Bob Hughes, a local TV news photographer who arrived after hearing about the accident on a police scanner. Ms. Householder says, “Then I heard, ‘It’s okay, we’re here!’ And I see this black woman out the window.” Ms. Whitehead and Mr. Hughes pulled Ms. Householder from the burning pickup. Mr. Hughes said, “I saw her foot hanging from the bone.” He used a fast-food bag as a tourniquet, and surgeons later successfully reattached her foot. Ms. Householder said, “Bob kept me from bleeding to death. Mary kept me from freaking out to death” until the EMS arrived. Mr. Hughes said about his lifesaving action, “I just hope someone would do that for me or my wife.” Ms. Whitehead had recently bought her daughter a Slushee at a nearby Phillips 66 for her 11th birthday, pointing out, “I had nothing else to give her,” but the community rallied around her after her heroism became known. People donated $17,000 to her, and a nonprofit group found a five-bedroom ranch house for her and her family to live in.

• In June 2007 Dale Newlands took a bicycle ride with his three children beside the River Lednock in Comrie, Perthshire, Scotland. He stopped to mend the bike of Georgia, his six-year-old daughter, while Connor, his 11-year-old son, and Gemma, his nine-year-old daughter, biked ahead. Unfortunately, Gemma’s bike hit some large rocks and she and her bike went down the 20-foot bank and into the river. She was trapped underwater with the bike on top of her. Connor soon realized that Gemma was no longer behind him, and he investigated. When he saw Gemma and her bike in the river, he scrambled down the riverbank and went into the water. He was unable to lift the bike off Gemma, but he held her head out of the water so she could breathe until their father arrived and lifted the bike off her. The children’s mother, Joanne, said, “I couldn’t believe that a simple family cycle ride had turned into such a nightmare. Connor didn’t want any fuss and was keen to play down his part in the whole drama. We’re so proud of him. Connor saved his sister’s life — it’s as simple as that. Gemma thinks he is the best brother in the world. He’s our hero, and we owe him everything.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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