We would all help someone whose life was in danger, wouldn’t we? I know it’s nice to think so, but psychology tells us that people tend to ignore strangers in their hour of need.
This owes to something called the bystander effect.
“When individuals relinquish responsibility for addressing a problem, the potential negative outcomes are wide-ranging — from minor household issues that housemates collectively avoid dealing with to violence and abuse that go unchecked,” Psychology Today said. And that desire to avoid responsibility almost cost one Wisconsin man his life.
According to WKOW, a man named Lonnie Strauss was working outside on Feb. 21. It was a cold day with wind chills dipping into the negatives.
He had decided to go outside and clear snow off of a satellite dish. This wasn’t an unessential task, by the way.
Strauss was at a radio station, but as he was brushing the white stuff away, something terrible happened.
The man slipped and fell, and when he tried to get up, he discovered that he couldn’t.
WAOW reported that Strauss lay in the snow for an hour and a half. He tried to flag down passing motorists, of which there were several.
Yet none of them would stop and help him. The wind continued to howl, and Strauss began to experience symptoms of hypothermia.
But right as he was staring at eternity, help arrived in the form of a 13-year-old boy. Michael Dickman was walking to school when he heard Strauss’ cries for help.
Michael recalled how others simply refused to aid him.
“There was this guy stuck in the snow by the back of a radio station,” he told WSAW-TV. “Nobody pulled over. A truck came by, but he didn’t help.”
“He just went around the storage sheds and he took off.”
Instead of passing Strauss by as so many others did, Michael ran into the radio building and dialed 911.
First responders quickly arrived and whisked Strauss off to the hospital where he was treated for hypothermia and frostbite.
“Because of the weather conditions, the male ended up suffering from frostbite and was in the early stages of hypothermia and probably wouldn’t have been discovered for an extended period of time,” Tyler Tesch of the Merrill Police Department said.
Deciding not to let Michael’s good deed go unrewarded, the police honored him with a Citizens Public Service award, calling him to the office at school to receive it.
“When they called my name, I thought I was in major trouble,” Michael said.
Strauss certainly didn’t feel that way, saying, “I was very thankful for this young man. It gives me a whole different appreciation.”
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