Editorial: Failure to help, poor reflection

By Dylan Thorne

2 comments


A disturbing scene played out at Mount Maunganui at the weekend - one that is sadly becoming all too familiar in modern society.

As we reported yesterday, local man Craig Leckie was shocked by five motorists who ignored his desperate attempts to flag them down and raise the alarm after a woman was pulled lifeless from the surf.

Vivian Fosse Telfar, 54, drowned while swimming near Sutherland Ave in Mount Maunganui, two days before she was due to fly home to Norway.

Mr Leckie ran to the road and attempted to wave down a passing car in an attempt to get access to a cellphone to raise the alarm.

It proved a dispiriting exercise.

The first car to come by slowed and stopped but when Mr Leckie approached the window the driver drove away. The same thing happened with the next four cars he flagged down.

Mr Leckie finally gave up and noticed a man sitting in a parked van. The tourist in the van gladly lent him his mobile phone.

I can understand that some motorists may have been alarmed by the sight of a man attempting to wave them down. We've all heard horror stories about car jackings and people falling victim to a crime after doing a good deed, and this perhaps was what instantly came to mind when the motorists spotted Mr Leckie desperately trying to wave someone down.

This summer there have been a number of attacks on police - one in Dargaville and another in Kawhia - where it was understandable for bystanders to fear for their own safety if they intervened.

However, no such circumstances were evident in Mount Maunganui that evening. This scene did not play out in an isolated area in the middle of the night. It happened in a busy residential area about 6pm.

The motorists may have also suffered from what psychologists call the "bystander effect" and thought that someone else would stop.

It is a sad indictment on where we are at as a society when people are too afraid to give another human being the benefit of the doubt. How can we encourage more people to intervene in such events?

We could start by at least giving others a chance to explain their situation.

Life might be more pleasant if we could once again give each other the benefit of the doubt and were more willing to lend a hand.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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