Friday, February 26, 2016

To stop or not to stop – when life and limb hang in the balance

It seems that everyone likes a feel-good story. Where the hero saves the day and gets the girl. OK, maybe doesn’t get the girl. But, you get the gist. The mainstream “if it bleeds it leads” mentality leaves all of us craving for some “good news.”

Here in the Land Line newsroom, we certainly do. And, hands down, one of our favorite things is to stumble across a truck driver who is the hero and saves the day. Those stories aren’t that hard to find, honestly. It happens a lot. It’s something that we as trucking journalists are proud to report and tout to the masses – countering the seemingly never-ending onslaught of character assassination of all truckers.

It’s interesting though, when we do cover a story like a trucker dashing into a burning wreck and saving people’s lives. Especially in this day and age of social media, there is always that comment or two talking about the dangers and risks involved. Some even go further and talk about how heroics can make a bad situation worse.

I’m as guilty as others of getting caught up in the emotional groundswell of feeling better about humanity. But those comments always make me slow down and think, even just for a second, when is it the right thing to go on, to stay out of the way.

It’s a healthy dialogue to have. And I think that more so now than I did before I read a personal post on, a website project by Travis Mitchell about the city of Kyle, Texas.

On the site Mitchell recounts a deadly chain-reaction wreck that began at 1 a.m., Feb. 19, on Interstate 35 in Kyle. The wreck happened in front of his dealership, Mitchell Motorsports, and was caught on security cameras.

According to Mitchell, a 22-year-old driver was driving the wrong way on I-35 and started a chain-reaction crash spanning several minutes that claimed four lives. The individual collisions did not happen all at once. From time to time some cars navigated through the wreckage … and kept going.

Mitchell details the wrecks and his thoughts.

Within thirty seconds of the initial collision, eight vehicles slowly drove around the van, failing to stop and render aid. Then four more vehicles drive by, putting on their turn signal. Then another, and another, and another.
Finally, after two minutes (into the video), at 2:13:48, three more vehicles come down the freeway, the last of which collides violently into the side of the stranded van.
And just like that, four souls, including an 18-month-old child, were snuffed out.
But I was horrified when I saw just how many people violated the basic calling of humanity, namely that we should be willing to put ourselves in harm’s way to help those who are in peril.

He goes on to talk about his thoughts and what he thinks of those who chose not to stop.

Here’s the video he posted from his dealership if you want to watch it.

The video and Mitchell’s opinions are illustrative of the dialogue, for sure. Do we get caught up in the moment? Are we thinking about how we all hope to have the nerve to tie on the proverbial hero cape and are ready to “do the right thing?” Or are we missing part of the bigger picture?

Truckers see more wrecks and dangerous situations on the roads than anyone. It’s easier to sit back and have these conversations now, when emotions aren’t in the moment.

Is there ever really a good time to not get involved and let someone else (or the authorities) handle it?