Still angels, heroes all around us

Published 9:06pm Thursday, January 10, 2013

Although no one knows with certainty yet why a young woman jumped off the Edmund Pettus Bridge Tuesday afternoon, there is one motive that is crystal clear—and that motive belongs to 29-year-old Doug Bacon.

Bacon, an Auburn student traveling through Selma didn’t think twice about stopping his car and swimming through the brisk waters of the Alabama River to rescue a stranger.

While attention still swarms around the mysterious jump, I think we should all take a moment and turn our attention to a young man who prevented this tragedy from becoming much worse.

When I first arrived on the Edmund Pettus Bridge where large groups of residents looked down at the horrible scene, I immediately began to look for police officers or any city officials that knew what was happening, but everyone seemed to be in the same state that I was in — complete shock. No one knew who the woman was, why she jumped off the iconic bridge or what her health status was. It was then that I realized if I wanted concrete answers I would have to venture closer to the heart wrenching scene.

As I made my way down to the muddy area below the bridge where the woman laid, my eyes immediately went to a dazed young man with dripping wet hair. I knew he had to be the brave soul who brought the troubled woman to safety.

My first question, the question I’m sure was on the minds of everyone, was “Why did you do it? Why did you decide to dive in to freezing cold water and rescue a woman you didn’t even know?”

Bacon’s response surprised me. “I was driving over the bridge and saw her holding on the side and then I looked back and saw that she wasn’t there,” he said. “So I just swam out there and got her.”

His response sounded so casual, so nonchalant. There was no hesitation in his voice. “I just swam out there and got her” — that phrase played through my mind the rest of the day. This young man, who had no ties to Selma, knew almost instictively what he had to do when he saw an awful event take place. His heroism made me wonder what I would do if I found myself in a similar situation. My heart says I would do what’s right, but my mind knows how difficult that decision would be.

Romans 15:1 says, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” And I believe that’s exactly what Doug Bacon did Tuesday evening. He felt obligated to do the right thing and help someone who was caught in a moment of weakness. His motive didn’t factor in the cold temperature of the water or the safety risks.

His motive was pure and selfless.

 

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