Highway accident a reminder that good people are out there

Thursday, July 16, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

The past three days have been a series of scenes from “The Good, The Bad and The Silly.” By 2:30 Saturday afternoon, it was already a long day and all I wanted to do was take a shower, watch golf and nap.

The morning was filled with laughter, talk and goodbyes. My friend Yu Ying (see my commentary of March 13 “Chinese-American relations alive and well in Columbia”), was leaving Columbia, spending her last two weeks in the United States in Washington, D.C., New York and Boston, then back home to China.

Our discussions involved Ying’s personal and professional attempts to understand the American psyche — something most Americans cannot define. We talked about politics, social issues and America’s obesity problems. We laughed and got serious and became close friends.

Ying had crisscrossed this country more than a few times during her one year here, seeing and doing things most American’s can only dream about. Her most recent adventure, along with her 6-year-old daughter, Claire, was spent visiting seven of America’s national parks, including Mount Rushmore, Yosemite, Glacier and Denali, and the long drive through Death Valley. They saw black, grizzly and polar bears, elk and American bison — buffalo. No Jackalope. For Ying and Claire, this is a great country.

Our final goodbye brought sadness and joy. We learned a lot from each other, though I think Ying and Claire came away the clear winners. Claire has books and CDs to help her learn English. They both have stories and pictures to preserve the memories. Their luggage is a good 200 pounds overweight without complaint. As they return to China, I smile knowing that I made a lifelong friend.

The drive home meant that I was returning to my world, dodging the traffic on I-70. As I approached the Providence Road underpass, I saw a white SUV cut across two lanes of highway and slide along the cement divider. We later found out the driver had a seizure. Javier Benavides of Watson, Ill., stopped his pickup in the middle of traffic to help. I, in the left lane, pulled to the side and stopped. You can read the details in the Missourian’s Sunday online issue, “Motorists stop to help man in I-70 accident.”

In addition to Javier, at least a dozen other people stopped to help — a doctor, an emergency room nurse and others concerned with the life of the driver. Police, fire and an ambulance were on the scene quickly, removing him from the car and placing the driver on a backboard. Although Javier and I were treated for minor cuts at the scene, Javier's injuries were worse from his attempts to assist the driver. Fortunately, by the time the driver arrived at University Hospital, he was alert and talking.

It took me about an hour to calm down after the adrenaline rush that afternoon. Once I got home, I realized the number of good people who put their own lives at risk for this unknown driver. It still brings a smile to my face — there are very good people everywhere we look, something we tend to forget.

I do not understand the concept of “original sin.” I have met hundreds of people from around the world, every one of them kind and caring toward their fellow inhabitants of this planet. I have been witness to too many accidents (and involved in a few myself) and have always had people stop to help. Sure, there are bad people out there, but that number is small compared to those who care. I do believe in original goodness.

Goodbye, Ying and Claire. Have a safe trip home. I am glad the driver is OK and is home in O’Fallon resting. Javier and the others who stopped to help, you are the real heroes of this story. Me? My job is to say thank you for being my neighbors.

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He welcomes your comments at


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