Failure to render aid should be illegal: Help me make this a law!
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In the state of Louisiana, the law does not require a person to call for help when they see someone else in danger. If a person sees a lone child injured or dying, state law does not require that person to call the authorities, or otherwise, to help the child. If a person sees someone else being beaten, mugged or even raped, state law does not obligate the witness to call the authorities. The only circumstance a person is required by state law to call the authorities is if the person making the call is the one putting someone else in harm’s way. This leaves too many opportunities for people to leave their fellow human beings vulnerable, and at the mercy of their attackers, and unfortunately, such mercy rarely exists.
On May 26th, 2017, my older and only brother Garen passed away. He was staying at a family member’s house, and that family member had knowledge that he was unconscious and dying, yet never picked up the phone to call 911 for help. More than six hours passed, and this family member did nothing but watch Garen struggle to breathe, confirm his heart rate was dangerously low, and yet this person made a conscious decision to not call 911. This family member, however, cannot be charged with any crime because technically they were not the one to directly harm Garen. While his life could easily have been saved, this person never made any effort and failed to prevent the devastating outcome.
Although my brother suffered from years of drug addiction, it did not play a role in his death. His recovery was going very well and toxicology results were negative of illicit drugs. His autopsy was inconclusive and official cause of death was undetermined.
Even though the cause of him dying wasn’t obvious to this other family member at the time, using basic logic would show that he was indeed slowly dying, and human compassion would have prevented his untimely death with one simple phone call.
This family member cannot be charged with anything because they were not technically the one to directly harm Garen. A young and healthy man and father lost his life that night and the person who was capable of saving him refused to, and we want justice. It isn’t a crime in the eyes of the state to neglect a dying loved one, but if it was, Garen’s family would have at least seen justice. Innocent people shouldn’t be let down by the negligence of bystanders, let alone their own family. Those innocent people, vulnerable to their attackers or their oncoming death, are cast aside to their terrible fate when their last hope decides they don’t want to step in and save a life. Children are taught from a young age that it is important to help those in need, those in danger and those who need help. Not only could negligence result in injury or trauma, but it could result in death.
Not only do we want justice for Garen, but we want justice for every person this, unfortunately, has happened to. We are ready and willing to make sure this will NEVER happen again and that it will never go unnoticed. Where is the line, if it isn’t here? How can we determine who is at fault? If a person knows someone is dying and refuses to get help, are they not responsible for their death? If a person sees a woman being raped and doesn’t intervene, then they have let that poor woman down.
My family will never understand why one of our own loved ones lacked empathy for someone in distress. With a call for help, she could have potentially prevented this devastating outcome.
We will continue to fight for justice. It will not change our situation, but hopefully prevent another family from having to endure this devastating heartbreak.
We will forever miss Garen.
He is survived by his maternal Grandmother, both his parents, three sisters, two beautiful daughters, numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and his niece and nephew.
Today: Mikaela is counting on you
Mikaela Williams needs your help with “Garret Graves: Make it illegal to not call for help when someone is in danger.”. Join Mikaela and 1,214 supporters today.