Profiles in courage
Heroes don’t swish 3-point shots at the buzzer, intercept passes for pick-six touchdowns in overtime games or headline pay-per-view cage matches.
Some run into burning skyscrapers or defuse improvised explosive devices halfway around the world, but most are ordinary people — the type of people who volunteer to assemble stages for community concerts.
Their status as heroes is cemented not when they find glowing green rings or mythic hammers but when they do what all of us hope we would find the courage to do if confronted by circumstance.
Saturday, circumstance presented itself to Steve Hudson and up to a dozen recreational trailer dwellers at Marion County Park and Lake, where Hudson serves as superintendent.
When a 12-year-old swimmer from Newton — a person with a different skin color and a reportedly different native tongue — disappeared in water almost twice as deep as he is tall, they selflessly and tirelessly sprang into action.
Wearing normal street clothes and not even diving masks, for 20 minutes they repeatedly dove into the lake, swam to the bottom and felt blindly with their hands in hope of feeling the boy.
When finally a volunteer using a fortuitously pre-placed rescue pole located the boy, another set of everyday heroes took over.
Although the boy was not breathing — and hadn’t for 20 to 25 minutes — four emergency medical technicians refused to give up. Rather than accept seemingly certain death, they — and, thanks to their help, the boy himself — battled it.
Whether he ultimately will survive the vice-like grip of death remains to be determined. What there is no doubt about is the heroism of all who fought to save him.
This newspaper would love to identify each of them by name and give them the publicity they so richly deserve. We would love to introduce them to the boy’s family, but the sheriff’s office, citing privacy concerns, won’t release his name; the volunteers won’t give their full names, and Hudson doesn’t want to talk about it.
True heroes, it seems, rarely do.
But heroism itself is hardly rare. Just a day after the heroic attempted rescue at the lake, Ty Klein of Hillsboro rescued 3-year-old Kayla McPhail of Marion from the bottom of Hillsboro’s city pool, and another pool patron, Phil Oeleke of Hillsboro, assisted lifeguards with CPR until an ambulance and eventually a LifeTeam helicopter arrived.
Kayla, fortunately, is already back home and doing well. She owes her life not just to them but to Klein’s 5-year-old daughter, Violet, who noticed Kayla was at the bottom of the pool.
True heroism also seems to know no age limits.
— ERIC MEYER
Last modified June 16, 2011