Colorado Editorials

The Colorado Springs Gazette: Two local heroes save a life

Author: The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board - April 11, 2018 - Updated: April 11, 2018

We’ve all heard about the school resource officer who failed to help students under fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

In another famous outrage, onlookers stood by and did nothing four years ago as a McDonald’s employee viciously beat a mother in front of her young son in New Jersey.

Too often we hear stories of people who choose to protect themselves, even from the possibility of legal liability, when someone else needs their help to survive.

So many people refuse to help victims in need, the psychological profession has a name for it: The Bystander Effect.

“People in need of help don’t get the support they require. Instead, others avert their eyes, turn their heads and pass quickly by,” explains a 2015 article in Psychology Today. “This is known as The Bystander Effect or Bystander Apathy.”

Psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latane named the phenomenon in the 1960s after the murder of Kitty Genovese in New York. Immediate neighbors and other residents in her large apartment complex heard her desperate pleas for help, but none tried to help.

Thank God The Bystander Effect had not infected two local residents when a Colorado Springs woman needed them Thursday.

Gazette Marketing Director Brad Doll drove from work shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday when a woman flagged him down by waving her arms as he drove on East Las Vegas Street near South Royer Street. She tried to stop others, but they passed on by.

Doll is new to the city. He had no idea whether he was in a safe neighborhood, and no way to know what the stranger wanted. He stopped anyway.

The woman, who remains unidentified, told him another woman in a red sedan was stuck on the train tracks. She led Doll to the car, where he found Helga Rodgers in the driver’s seat of an immobile vehicle. A train headed toward the car.

Rodgers appeared disoriented and refused to leave the car. Doll decided to remove her by force. He placed her in the back seat of his car. He moved his car father from the tracks, just before a train demolished the woman’s sedan.

“It was like it hit a mosquito,” Doll said.

He credits the woman who stopped him for saving Rodgers from certain death.

“She was fiercely protective of Helga and told me clearly what I needed to do,” Doll said.

After the crash, the woman who brought Doll to the scene disappeared like an angel portrayed by Hollywood.

“Thank you very much, wherever you come from. God bless you. Thank you very much. You saved my life,” Rodgers told KKTV.

Onlookers and passersby who do nothing are a common, cheap commodity. That is why all 50 states have “Good Samaritan” laws reducing liabilities people worry about when hesitating to help strangers in need.

The Gazette is grateful Helga Rodgers survives, proud of Brad Doll, and thankful for the anonymous Samaritan who flagged him down. Lives are worth saving.

The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board