Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Feb. 2, 2023
Some heroes are just ordinary people who do extraordinary things

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes — and species.

In December, 94-year-old Morris Cohen of Dorset, England, was climbing into his car when his walking stick broke, causing him to fall into the footwell, where he became wedged under the clutch and brake pedals.

With the car parked in Cohen’s garage and his family away, no one could hear Cohen’s calls for help, even though the garage door was up.

After being stuck in his car enduring freezing temperatures for nearly 24 hours, an unexpected visitor arrived.

Cohen’s neighbor Roger, a Jack Russell terrier and poodle mix, had run away from home and, perhaps hearing Cohen, wandered into his garage. Ignoring the calls from his owner, Roger stayed with Cohen until his owner arrived and called for help.

Ultimately three firefighters were needed to free Cohen and take him to the hospital, where he spent 10 days recovering from hypothermia.

When Cohen returned home he delivered a Christmas stocking of dog treats to Roger.

“I owe my life to that dog," Cohen told the Daily Echo newspaper. "They said if I would've been there for a few more hours, I would have been a goner."

Small talk has big results

A new project in the U.K. has revealed that when it comes to building connection and belonging within a local community, we can all be a hero.

The Neighbourly Lab in London recently installed stickers on city buses prompting passengers to speak to strangers, with slogans like "Who can say hello first?" and “A ‘thanks’ or ‘hey’ can make my day. #ThankYouDriver.”

Researchers found that these simple messages increased the percentage of passengers who greeted their driver from 20% to 30%. And when the bus was particularly packed, they observed a 10% difference in engagement between buses with the stickers versus without.

Why bother with such small and fleeting interactions? Research has shown that these kinds of micro-engagements can have a huge cumulative effect within a community, including better subjective wellbeing and reduced loneliness.

Maternal instincts

A chance encounter at a gas station and a little motherly intuition helped two moms catch a kidnapper who had evaded police.

It all started when Shyann Belmar met a woman selling toys outside an Indianapolis gas station shortly before Christmas. After buying some of the toys, Belmar agreed to give the woman a ride to a nearby Family Dollar store.

The woman called herself “Mae,” and when she started acting erratically, Belmar recorded a video of her on her phone.

After dropping off Mae, Belmar was on Facebook and saw mugshots of Nalah Jackson, a suspect in a car theft and kidnapping in Columbus, Ohio.

Jackson was accused of stealing a Honda that was left running with five-month-old twins in the back seat. One of the babies was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Dayton International Airport, but the other twin, the stolen Honda, and Jackson were all still missing.

When Belmar and her cousin, Mecka Curry, compared the mugshots with Belmar’s video of Mae, the pair were convinced that Mae was actually Jackson.

Belmar and Mae had exchanged phone numbers during their car ride, so when Mae called about meeting up to purchase more toys, Belmar and Curry hatched a plan.

First, Belmar and Curry agreed to meet the woman and drove her to several stores while repeatedly calling police. Finally an officer tracked down and pulled over their vehicle on I-65 and took Jackson into custody.

Next, the cousins set out to find the missing baby. They noticed that Jackson left a bus schedule in their car, so they began tracing the bus route looking for Jackson’s stolen Honda, hoping the baby might still be inside. 

After a few hours with no success, the cousins took a break for dinner at Papa John’s when they noticed a Honda in the parking lot covered in snow.

Seeing the baby’s face in the rear-view mirror, the women quickly summoned police officers from a nearby restaurant to rescue the infant, who was indeed the missing twin.

“At that point, we didn’t believe we really did this,” Curry told the Indy Star newspaper. “We really did the unthinkable.”  R&B

About the Author

David Matthews

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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