June 28, 2005

How many lives have you saved?

David Bogner has saved 82:

Life # 1: One day during the summer between 1st & 2nd grade I was at the local swimming pool with my family. A friend and I were sitting on the edge of the pool talking when we saw a toddler wander away from his parents and fall into the deep end of the pool a few yards away. We looked at each other in horror because we realized that we were the only ones who had seen the little boy fall into the pool. My friend only knew how to swim on top of the water and I only knew how to swim underwater (long story for another day). I dove down to the bottom of the pool and started dragging the squirming boy towards the surface. Once I broke the surface my friend was waiting there for me to help drag the flailing kid towards the edge of the pool. By now the lifeguard had realized something was wrong and he helped pull the toddler from the pool. I can still remember the tearful thank you I got from the kid's parents (they were a Lebanese couple that my parents knew), and the pizza dinner my parents bought me as a hero's reward.

Life # 2: I was standing on the corner of a busy street in Olongapo, Philippines when one of my shipmates stumbled drunkenly past me intent on crossing the street. He lunged into the roadway just as a Jeepnee ( a brightly painted open taxicab) came speeding towards him. I grabbed him by the back of his collar and pulled him back onto the sidewalk just as the Jeepnee zoomed past. In his drunken state my shipmate never even saw the jipnee that had almost killed him and simply assumed someone was trying to mug him. He turned around to face me and knocked me nearly unconscious with a drunken round-house punch that landed solidly just above my left ear. The next day when he had sobered up, several witnesses explained to him how close he had come to being run down and how he owed me not only an apology, but probably his life. To his credit, I never paid for a beer in his presence for the rest of the time we were shipmates.

Life # 3: Once while I was in Paris with my High School Jazz band I happened to be standing with a small crowd waiting to cross the street. A British tourist standing next to me followed his instincts and looked the wrong way before stepping boldly off the curb into the path of an oncoming bus. I was one of two sets of hands that pulled him out of the street just as the bus passed the spot where we were standing. Even with two sets of hands pulling this guy backwards the bus still managed to hit him very hard with the bottom of one of its mirrors... hard enough to upon a very messy cut on the side of his head. I am pretty sure that just one set of hands would not have been fast or strong enough to pull him (mostly) out of harm's way.

Life #4: On one of many trips to the Grand Canyon I hiked down the Bright Angel trail towards the bottom. About a third of the way down at one of the numerous switch-backs that the trail takes, I happened to be passing a young woman who was standing off the trail trying to take a picture of the canyon. Apparently she was so caught up in trying to frame her shot just so that she didn't realize she had backed onto a patch of loose sand and gravel at the edge of a steep drop-off. As I passed her I watched her start to flair her arms in a losing battle with balance and gravity and start to topple over the embankment at the turn in the switch-back. I made an off-balance grab for her and luckily managed to get hold of one of the straps on her knapsack. I managed to stop most of her outward momentum, but I quickly started to loose ground as well and felt my feet starting to slip. A hiker just behind me managed to both anchor himself and grab my belt before we both tumbled over the cliff. I almost threw up from the adrenaline rushing through my system.

And the other 78 (with pictures!): 

When our ship reached the boat we confirmed that it was full of Vietnamese refugees and that their boat was severely overloaded and in danger of being swamped by even the gentle swells that broke over the gunwales.  We immediately began organizing a rescue party.  I was one of the people who volunteered to go over the side and help bring them aboard.

In all there were 78 people stuffed into that tiny wooden boat; 34 men, 26 women and 18 children.  They had left Vietnam more than two weeks earlier with enough fuel and supplies for a week, but after their fuel had run out they had drifted out of the shipping lanes and into an area where they were not likely to be found.   Many of the elderly were suffering from dehydration and heat stroke, and several of the parents were semi-conscious from malnutrition and dehydration because they had been giving their meager rations to their children.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at June 28, 2005 09:02 PM
Comments & Trackbacks

Yikes, this made me want to run and hide! You left out an important word: 'helped'. I helped to save these lives. I honestly feel that there are countless lives that each of us prolong and shorten every day by our actions and inaction. Most we will never really know. I posted about these 82 not to brag, but to point out what a deep and lasting effect these events have had on my own life.

Posted by: David at June 28, 2005 09:52 PM Permalink

Well, the events speak for themselves.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at June 29, 2005 12:19 AM Permalink

Hello David,

I have included a few comments on your IQ Plage post.

I also wrote an extra post (in English) on disengagement.


Posted by: Kantor at June 29, 2005 10:32 PM Permalink

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