Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 6, 2006, Herald Journal

When heroism is reprimanded


NOTE: This is an edited version of this column. The original included the name of the person charged, however, his name has been removed since the point of the column is about actions in a certain situation rather than him personally.

A story in last week’s Star Tribune has caused some controversy over a young man calling 911 because an 18-year-old was “non-responsive” after a night of binge drinking.

A 20-year-old University of Minnesota student had also been drinking at a party and found a young woman passed out.

He had taken CPR and first-aid courses and knew the woman’s condition was serious.

Without a selfish thought, the young man dialed 911. Although he himself had been drinking, and knew the consequences, he was only worried about saving this woman’s life.

When officers arrived at the scene, he thought it was important for him to give as much information as possible to help with the woman’s care.

He was asked if he had been drinking, which he had, and was given a Breathalyzer test which also included a $140 fine for underage drinking.

I think this was a mistake because now it may have hindered someone else from calling for help in the future.

Instead of being commended for his heroism, he was condemned for his irresponsibility. Now, others will think about this young man’s penalties rather than his act of heroism.

The question in the Star Tribune asked, “Would somebody else make the same 911 call if they thought they might be fined for trying to save someone’s life?”

I believe the answer is “no.” A minor citation and a fine is a big deal for students and young adults.

At that age, kids will do anything not to get caught. When a party gets busted, the minors run. They don’t stay behind because it’s the honorable thing to do.

This student could’ve easily stayed out of it for his own safety and concerns but instead had the integrity to stay by this woman’s side until help arrived.

His concerns for the woman’s life outweighed any worries about the trouble he would get in.

This was a very unselfish and heroic act and I hope it doesn’t discourage others in these types of situations from doing the right thing.

Julian Kycia of Stillwater whose son, a sophomore at Moorhead State University, was found dead in the Red River after a night of drinking, has decided to pay the young man’s fine.

“Maybe if there had been somebody like (him) around, someone who had an eye on my son, Patrick might still be alive,” Kycia said.

The young woman who had been drinking and found unconcious was revived after being taken to a local hospital and not fined.

The police on the scene commented they were more concerned about saving the woman’s life.

But shouldn’t that have been the case when he was fined? In the past, I have heard of minors just getting warned for this behavior. This would’ve been a more admirable thing to do.

A fine will not deter minors from drinking alcohol; it will just make them more careful about not getting caught.

I can only hope that others would do the same, regardless of the consequences.

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