Dirty Deeds?

March 20th, 2008 by Kathy McManus

A Good Samaritan is accused of being not good enough.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

It’s possible to be a Good Samaritan. 

But is it possible to be a not-good-enough Samaritan? 

A Canadian woman was recently confronted with that question when two killers accused her of not doing enough to save a man they had beaten and left for dead.

The woman was driving her car when she saw the two men viciously kicking and stomping a third man in the street. The assailants then fled, leaving their victim—who they had robbed—lying unconscious in the road. The woman called 911. But before police or paramedics arrived, an unsuspecting driver ran over the victim. He died. 

The woman testified in court, and the two men were convicted of manslaughter. The woman was hailed as a Good Samaritan. But when the killers returned to court for a sentencing hearing, they stunned the Samaritan by claiming she was responsible for the victim’s death. Lawyers for the two men argued that the woman had a responsibility to get out of her car and pull the victim to safety. Had she done so, the lawyers insisted, the victim wouldn’t have died. 

The Samaritan had previously testified that she was too scared to leave her car, even after the assailants fled. “You always want to try and help a person as much as possible,” she said. “But you also have to worry about what could happen to you.”

A judge considered and then rejected the argument, telling the lawyers they could raise the issue on appeal for the two men. 

“The question is, should they be held responsible?” the men’s lawyers ask. “And we say no.” 

The Samaritan was reflective: “In a situation like this, you always think back and wonder whether you could have done something different.” 

Could she?