Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Good Samaritans, Bad Samaritans

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What would you do if you witnessed a crime unfolding right in front of you? Of if you saw someone who was in need of immediate help?Would you dial 911 and just let the authorities handle it? Would you try and stop the bad guy or help the victim? Or would you simply turn a blind eye and do nothing?Before you answer, consider the following two cases.*****bourque1.jpg Amanda Bourque may be nine months pregnant, but she wasn't going to let that stop her from doing the right thing.And to the 30-year-old Tecumseh, Ontario woman, that meant stopping a suspect drunk driver for wreaking any more havoc in her hometown.As Bourque told a national radio audience on my "Crime and Punishment" radio show Sunday night, she has no regrets about her actions last week.She was driving to her work, around noon, when she caught a glimpse of a car in her rear-view mirror that immediately set off warning bells.The male driver was all over the road and eventually took out a string of garbage cans, including one flattened container still being dragged under his car.Bourque, who didn't have a cell phone, pulled over and let the maniac pass.I suggested to her Sunday that this is where most people would have ended their involvement.Bourque had other ideas. She stepped on the gas and gave chase, leaning on her horn in an attempt to get the driver to pull over (and warn other motorists).She watched in horror as he veered into oncoming traffic, narrowly missing hitting another car head-on. Finally, he turned into the parking lot of a convenience store, went up over the curb, over the sidewalk, over the grass, over another curb before coming to rest in a parking stall.Bourque began screaming at the man, letting him know he'd nearly killed people on the road. She also told him the police would likely be coming shortly.That prompted the pan to back up, hit a brick wall and take off again.Bourque wasn't going to give up.She continued to follow and honk and pray - then finally got the chance to act when he slammed into the back of a parked car at a stop sign. Nobody was injured.Bourque used her own car to box the man in, holding him until police arrived moments later and took the 54-year-old driver into custody. He's now charged with being impaired."She probably saved a life that day," one caller to the radio show said Sunday.Another interesting aspect of the case is the reaction from police, who normally pooh-pooh (at least publicly) the notion of taking matters into your own hands.Const. Janet Hayes said she’ll nominate Bourque for a public service award, saying the woman put herself and her baby at risk to save the lives of others, and not everyone would do that.“Here is a woman who has a lot at stake and she’s willing to take the risk to herself and unborn child to do the right thing, to save a life,” she told the Windsor Star. “She’s a true hero.”Bourque told me she wasn't trying to be a hero - she was just doing what she hoped any other citizen would."If I would have seen in the paper that somebody got killed, or a mother and her two children were in a bad accident because of this guy, and I just turned my back, there is no way I’d ever be able to sleep. Never," she told the Star.Her story is a refreshing reminder that there are still some very good people in this world - especially in light of the following story.*****ALeqM5gYkySR-2hX8ILyLpXZIYgSTfQsnQ.jpg The 78-year-old man lay critically injured on the road, his frail body broken after being hit by a car seconds earlier which they sped away without stopping.Perhaps even more shocking than last week's tragic hit-and-run in Hartford is what happened next.Nothing.Surveillance cameras which captured Angel Arce Torres being mowed down also revealed another disturbing sight - numerous cars zooming past and bystanders simply staring at Torres from the sidewalk without going anywhere near him.“We no longer have a moral compass," a grim-faced police Chief Daryl Roberts told reporters last week upon releasing the videos to the public.Police did admit they received a handful of 911 emergency calls made shortly after the senior was hit. They released portions of two calls on Friday.“Send an ambulance quick, quick, quick, he’s bleeding hard,” one man implores an emergency operator.Although it's nice to know a few people felt moved enough to dial for help, it still doesn't explain the shocking non-reaction from everyone at the scene.The government has now offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the motorists involved in the accident.As some calls to "Crime and Punishment" suggested Sunday, they may want to throw in some additional funds for anyone who can find out where that missing "moral compass" has gone.*****Two very different cases. And two very different reactions.What prompted Amanda Bourque to take such an active role in her situation while those in Hartford seemingly viewed getting involved as a major inconvenience.If anything, Bourque had much more to fear - she's about to give birth and was chasing down a dangerous driver. What could the people of Connecticut been afraid of by approaching the injured man??This issue runs much deeper than these two examples, of course. And by no means is it as simple as saying "Canadians are more caring than Americans."We've all seen and heard plenty of homegrown stories where people showed a glaring indifference, or worse, in similar situations.I've personally covered several trials in the past year alone where lack of witness co-operation mean the suspect walked. Of course, there are many others cases which never even made it to court for similar reasons.Why is this?Is it the fact many people are simply self-absorbed and can't be bothered to care about anyone other than those in their immediate world?Is it a product of the Internet world we now live in, where actual human connections have taken a backseat to the virtual variety?Is it because of frustrations with the justice system, where people think getting involved will be more trouble than its worth and simply lead to years of legal headaches with no satisfactory conclusion?All I know is this.Amanda Bourque said she couldn't have slept at night had she just kept on driving.I wonder how the people who refused to help the elderly hit-and-run victim are sleeping these days?

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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.


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