May others follow one 17-year-old’s example

Hero or goat?

Charlie Brown’s eternal angst has many applications beyond the baseball field.

Take, for example, the Wednesday story, “Teen’s quick thinking saves life,” by Herald reporter Jackson Holtz.

We’re told how Couri Ruffcorn, 17, was riding in a school van on his way to Edmonds-Woodway High School when he saw a man grabbing his chest and trying to wave down traffic. Ruffcorn told the van driver to pull over and call 911. Ruffcorn got the man a blanket and his wallet and waited with him until the ambulance arrived.

It turns out the Snohomish man’s pacemaker defibrillator had gone off several times and he was experiencing severe chest pains. His phones weren’t working, which prevented him from calling 911. So the man crawled out of his home on his hands and knees, trying to get the attention of a passing car.

That’s when Ruffcorn took action and became the hero. He followed up by having his mom, Gina DuFrain, take him to visit the man in the hospital later that day. He told the newspaper that he doesn’t deserve the credit, that others helped too. Then he added something that showed wisdom beyond his years: “Karma always comes around,” he said. “You leave someone sitting there … It could always happen to you.”

Which brings us to the goats of the story.

The man who crawled out of his house seeking help said that more than 20 cars passed him before Ruffcorn had the school van stop. Twenty cars. Twenty people too busy to stop and help a man clutching his chest. The incident happened in a Snohomish neighborhood, not some scary section of a big city. (Even if it did happen in a scary section of a big city, where a scam of some sort might be a reasonable fear, one doesn’t even have to leave the comfort of one’s car to help, just call 911.) It happened in the light of day, not the dark of night. What were the goats thinking? Someone else will help? I’m not in a good Samaritan mood? I might get sued? I’m talking on my cell? I’m going to teach my kids in the back seat a lesson in lack of compassion? Most would likely say they simply didn’t see the man. If that’s the case, they were driving too fast.

The story is as inspiring as it is disheartening.

We choose to focus on the inspiration, in the belief that Ruffcorn’s care and concern will reverberate, reaching other hearts beyond the one he helped save.

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