But for every bad guy, there are multitudes doing good — helping others every day and, remarkably, often when events turn tragic.
A fatality incident Wednesday off I-35, near the Williamsburg exit, provides a solid example of the caring nature that truly belies humanity. When a Lexus sport utility vehicle driven by Michael Robert Mcauliffe, 48, Urbandale, Iowa, left the roadway Wednesday, struck a tree and ultimately caught fire, people rushed to Mcauliffe’s aid.
Two elderly motorists first stopped to help, according the Kansas Highway Patrol. When they realized something was terribly amiss (Mcauliffe apparently wouldn’t exit the vehicle and was attempting to free it from underbrush), they flagged down a passing Homeland Security officer.
The officer put himself in jeopardy, attempting to convince Mcauliffe to come out of the vehicle, but the doors were locked. The Iowa man remained inside the car. In a last-ditch effort to free him, the officer fired two shots, unsuccessfully trying to shatter the window of the vehicle, the highway patrol reported.
A passing truck driver also attempted to help Mcauliffe, using a fire extinguisher to try to quell the blaze.
Unfortunately, their efforts failed. Mcauliffe refused to exit the vehicle and perished inside. We don’t yet know the “why” behind the actions that led to the man’s death, but the motivations of those who attempted to free him are clear:
They were good people called to action.
Law enforcement officers and everyday community members work feverishly to help those around them — often putting their lives on the line in the process.
Remember David Todd? At 20 years old in June 2011, Todd rescued his friend, Nicholas Bacon, then-18, from drowning at Ottawa’s city pool. Todd recognized that Bacon, who suffered from epilepsy, was having a seizure, according to Herald archives. Though Todd himself was living with a disability, autism, his quick thinking saved his friend’s life — he swooped Bacon out of the water, hoisted him over his shoulder “like a baby” and carried him to the edge of the pool. Numerous lifeguards then assisted to remove Bacon from the water.
Of course, not every story ends so happily for those rendering aid.
Capt. Robert C. Cowdin, with the Ottawa Police Department, died in July 1963 while trying to control an unruly mob of more than 2,000 who were throwing small explosives and beer cans and punching police officers and firefighters during the Lake Garnett Grand Prix auto races. The 43-year-old Cowdin collapsed in a fog of deployed tear gas on the courthouse square in Garnett and later died of a heart attack.
Sam Smith, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy, was killed in July 2010 when the 23-year-old’s patrol car crashed while he was responding to a domestic disturbance call near Pomona.
A memorial service honoring fallen law enforcement officers — including Cowdin and Smith — is planned for 6 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church, 410 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.
Though tragedy and heartache might seem ever-present in our society, we must remember the good still outweighs the bad. Our community remains strong because when we see others struggling — whether during a flood, the aftermath of a house fire of even an immediate fight for life — good people offer help.
They offer comfort.
They offer their lives.
Nothing evil about that.
— Tommy Felts,