Editorials

Making sound choices in a dangerous situation

Abraham Toure is a modest young hero -- but a quick-thinking one who made all the right moves when decisiveness was crucial., Herald staff writer Michelle Dupler told his story, along with that of the woman whom he helped rescue.

"Helped" is too vague a term for what he did, so let's go with the specifics, as provided by Dupler.

Toure was walking home from visiting friends Sunday night, and his route took him past Claybell Park in south Richland at about 8:15 p.m.

He heard rustling in the bushes that sounded to him like a struggle was under way.

Then he heard a woman scream and a sound like someone being punched.

He might have run to the scene for a closer look.

He might have started yelling.

Or he might, as witnesses did in the infamous Kitty Genovese case, have decided "not to get involved." (Genovese was a 28-year-old woman stabbed, raped and murdered on March 13, 1964 within view and earshot of a number of her Queens, N.Y., neighbors, only one of whom actually called the police after it was over.)

Instead Toure called 911 on his dying cell phone and ran to find someone in the vicinity with a telephone.

Police were told what he had seen and heard.

Toure returned to the park, yelling so any attacker would know someone else was at hand.

Then he saw the woman running.

Toure told Dupler that although some people have described his actions as heroic, he believes anyone would have done the same.

"That's just normal human behavior," he said. "I was thinking I could only imagine how scared this girl must be. I was just thinking, 'What can I do to help her?' "

What he did turned out to be exactly the right thing.

Richland police have a suspect in jail.

Consider the alternatives.

Toure might have simply rushed toward the sounds, trusting that he would be strong enough to overpower the assailant and rescue the woman.

Nice heroics, but what if he was wrong? What if it was a gang-rape or a robbery at gunpoint? It could have been. Thus, perhaps two victims instead of one.

What if he had stood there with his cell phone, calling police and the battery died?

Instead, he first guaranteed that the authorities were notified, then he went back to help the woman.

We do not know the assailant's ultimate intentions, but it is possible Toure saved the woman's life by his actions.

The reaction to assaults usually should be the same as the recommended reaction to a fire:

w Get away from the area as safely as you can if you can.

w Notify the authorities -- 911-- if you can.

w Then offer your help as needed.

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