April 7, 2010

It's Julien Duret, the Frenchman, previously eclipsed by the "heroic father."

He was in fact, first to reach the drowning toddler who fell into the East River.

Here's our earlier (contentious) discussion. We argued about whether the father who instinctively jumped in to save the child ought to be called a hero. In that light, consider Duret's remark:
"I don't really think I'm a hero. Anyone would do the same thing.... I was just happy that I was able to help her, and I am just happy that the family has been reunited."

47 comments:

New "Hussein" Ham said...

Excepting he is from France, which, really, is not his fault but his parents' - Mr. Duret is indeed a hero.

He risked his life for the life of a defenseless child he did not even know who was not being properly cared for by her parents.

He is to be commended.

Would that his countrymen were made of his material.

The Drill SGT said...

I have to agree with New Ham on all counts.

I would also note that the Frenchman didn't see the father up on deck which begs the question about how far he let his toddler stroll without paying attaention.

muddimo said...

Saving someone's life = hero. They are both heroes. I am sure their families would agree and rightly so.

Lynne said...

He seems like very nice man. I'm sort of glad for him that this happened at the very end of his visit to the city; he was able to relax and enjoy his vacation without being gaped at and pestered by the press.

wv: lesteem. What true French heros have- l'esteem de self and de publique!

LarsPorsena said...
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Richard Dolan said...

It's interesting that no one really expected the mother to jump in to try to save her daughter (and, of course, she didn't). Same with M. Duret's girlfriend, who watched his instinctive reaction (i.e., not hesitating to dive in to save the child) while she screamed, alerting others, including perhaps the child's father. Screaming was, oddly, the appropriate thing for her to do.

By any conventional understanding of heroism, both M. Duret and the father acquitted themselves well. Heroism here is a distinctly masculine trait, showing without embarrassment its origins in warrior culture. There are other contexts in which the concept is less gender-specific, but that's not today's story.

Meade said...

PatHMV has written an admirable summary comment on the other thread. Not a heroic summary comment, but an admirable summary comment:

Heroic people are those who act above and beyond "the call of duty." They do something MORE than we normally expect of a regular person in a particular situation. Not labeling the father "heroic" does not diminish his actions, as so many here seem to think. It simply recognizes that, as the father, it was his duty to jump in the water after his daughter. That's all. It's not "heroic" because we expect ALL fathers to do the same thing in the same circumstances. If he did not, we would look down upon him, call him a coward, shame him for not attending to his duty.

But the Frenchman, as a passing stranger he had no duty to immediately jump into the water after a complete stranger. The duty of a passing stranger is to summon help, not to endanger his only life to save another man's gene pool (to look at it from an evolutionary perspective). If he did NOT jump in the water, we would not particularly think less of him, because of course, why would he do that? He perhaps has his own wife and children who would suffer were he to die in the rescue attempt.

So I admire the father for his prompt action. Many fathers today do not live up to their basic duties. He did, so many kudos to him. But I do not consider him a hero. The Frenchman is the hero.

Michael said...

Love the Frenchman and his disdaining the title of "hero." He knows how to swim, the kid fell in the water and he jumped in and saved her, or helped save her. He wasn't going to drown. Getting wet is heroism? Not to a real French man.

k*thy said...

"I don't really think I'm a hero. Anyone would do the same thing...."

A hero always says (and believes) that, don't they? The hero never sees it himself, because he can't. His humility won't allow it.

Both of these guys were truly awesome. There are angels among us. The little girl will grow up thinking them both her own personal heroes. And that's all that really matters.

Seth said...

"But the Frenchman, as a passing stranger he had no duty to immediately jump into the water after a complete stranger. The duty of a passing stranger is to summon help, not to endanger his only life to save another man's gene pool (to look at it from an evolutionary perspective). If he did NOT jump in the water, we would not particularly think less of him, because of course, why would he do that?"

As Adults, we all have a duty to protect and assist children in jeopardy.

Smilin' Jack said...

It's ridiculous to call the Frenchman heroic for jumping in the water. That's what frogs do.

PatHMV said...

Meade, I only wrote what anybody else would have, in the same situation. ;-)

danielle said...

what a fantastic human being !

ann, you called it.

i saw the dad on the today show, and comparing their 2 stories, it seems like the dad didnt realize the daughter was in the freezing water for > 20 seconds which is a long time to be w/out O2 for a baby. Both the guys had time to strip off their heavier clothes. The frenchmen spent time thinking it was a doll ... the dad ran to some other spot on the pier to jump off. when the frenchman got to her, she wasnt responding .... but then after a bit she started crying ..

the frenchman saved her life !

Bob said...

In my home town sixty years ago when I was a child, my mother and father used to take me and my brothers and sisters out to Swope Park on Sunday afternoons. It was a wonderful place for kids, with picnic grounds and lakes and a zoo. But a railroad line cut straight through it.

One Sunday afternoon a young married couple were crossing these tracks. She apparently did not watch her step, for she managed to catch her foot in the frog of a switch to a siding and could not pull it free. Her husband stopped to help her.

But try as they might they could not get her foot loose. While they were working at it, a tramp showed up, walking the ties. He joined the husband in trying to pull the young woman's foot loose. No luck - -

Out of sight around the curve a train whistled. Perhaps there would have been time to run and flag it down, perhaps not. In any case both men went right ahead trying to pull her free...and the train hit them.

The wife was killed, the husband was mortally injured and died later, the tramp was killed - - and testimony showed that neither man made the slightest effort to save himself.

The husband's behavior was heroic...but what we expect of a husband toward his wife: his right, his proud privilege, to die for his woman. But what of this nameless stranger? Up to the very last second he could have jumped clear. He did not. He was still trying to save this woman he had never seen before in his life, right up to the very instant the train killed him. And that's all we'll ever know about him.

This is how a man dies.

This is how a man... lives!


From The Pragmatics of Patriotism, by Robert Heinlein.

traditionalguy said...

The legal duty of a stranger is to watch and do nothing, except that he must do a what reasonably prudent man would do if he assumes to do anything(this is the origin of negligence law from the old Assumpsit Writ). To encourage acts by passerbys, especially MDs, many states have enacted Good Samaritan laws so strangers are protected from being sued for rescue life saving they assume to do. Both men here were heros. Fathers are heros all day long. Life Saving principles and methods are a long and hard course taught at the YMCA, and I assure you that the dad here did everything correctly . The magnificent Julien Duret's of the world are why life is still worth living in the big city. Le Jour Gloire est'arrive, big-time.

Sheepman said...

It's automatic, and questioning the dad's motives is unnecessary

The fact that they reacted automatically is revealing. The Frenchman got rid of his coast which was the practical thing to do. I assume he had a wallet and a watch and he didn't take time to get rid of those items. That indicates that his focus was solely on saving the child. That is much more heoric than the father's actions.

Meade said...

Ha ha ha. No, Pat - but you did do your duty as the extraordinarily eloquent self-effacing commenter we have all come to know you to be.

Carry on.

David said...

What Sheepman said--except for the slap at the father.

A "feel good" story that isn't made up or used by someone to promote something.

How often does that happen.

Vive Le Francais heroique.

mariner said...

There's a Frenchman I would buy a beer for.

God Bless him.

Jennifer said...

First in, last out. And pretty hot, too. Good for him. I'm pretty uninterested in Dad, but this guy's story is compelling.

Also interesting is that not only did he jump first, his girlfriend's scream was the one everybody heard as a call to arms. Didn't we all assume it was Mom?

Theo Boehm said...
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prairie wind said...

Bob, a real man would have the sense to know you don't take your wife walking on railroad tracks.

prairie wind said...

...and, of course, a real woman would have known that, too.

Skyler said...

Smiling Jack wins the thread.

The Frenchman said: "Anyone would do the same thing...."

Perhaps he is right that anyone or almost anyone would. But he did.

LL said...
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LL said...

A father is supposed to jump in and save his child. It is part of the job description.

From what I gather after watching the video at the end of the article, it sounds like the father made the mistake of not watching his daughter as carefully while on the dock; however, kids get away all the time but rarely do they end up falling into the drink.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"It's interesting that no one really expected the mother to jump in to try to save her daughter."

Seeing as how the mother couldn't even be bothered to hold this 2-year-old child so that the child wouldn't fall 20-feet into a freezing frigging river, no ... I don't really expect she'd jump in after it.

Fact of the matter is the media needed a feel-good life saved story for Easter. They chose this one ignoring the horrible parenting that resulted in this kid falling into the drink.

Didn't fit the narrative.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"A father is supposed to jump in and save his child. It is part of the job description."

No, a father is supposed to make sure his 2-year-old kid can't possibly fall 20 feet into a freezing river.

That's his job.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"The Frenchman said: "Anyone would do the same thing...."

This is the most interesting part of the story.

The Frenchman is actually incorrect. Not just anyone would do the same thing. There were lots of people on the dock who did not do the same thing he did.

They stood and watched.

Guy said...

It is odd for this Frenchman to read that a bystander has no "legal obligation" to help someone in danger, and that laws have to be enacted to allow strangers to do so without being sued. A world truly upside-down.

As to being a hero: there is some sort of danger in thus labelling these acts to make them "out-of-reach" for the ordinary person (and yes, this means man or woman: there are men who can't swim and women who can). Any ordinary person able to swim should feel morally obligated to help rather than think only "heroes" should/could do it.

Lynne said...

Bob said-
Up to the very last second he could have jumped clear. He did not. He was still trying to save this woman he had never seen before in his life, right up to the very instant the train killed him. And that's all we'll ever know about him.

My mother (devout Christian)always used to say that we often "entertain angels unaware". I think this is what she meant.

Larry J said...

No, a father is supposed to make sure his 2-year-old kid can't possibly fall 20 feet into a freezing river.

That's his job.


I take it you have no spent much time recently with a 2 year old of the species. They're elusive and tricky with no sense of gravity.

I have 4 young grandchildren. It's a full time job keeping them out of danger and all it takes is a second's distraction for them to make a break for it. Based on my experience, I cut the parents a little slack.

The father did what he was supposed to do. The French man (no longer an oxymoron) did far more than would be expected of him. He's worthy of praise.

Fred Drinkwater said...

No one can know for sure, before the fact, if they will react in a "heroic" way to situations like this.

What you can and should do, is prepare yourself before the fact. Then, when the inevitable incident happens, you at least know what the hell you are doing, and are less likely to kill yourself and others while trying to help.

Adults have a responsibility to be competent. Get yourself trained in first aid, swimming, wilderness survival, CPR, whatever is appropriate to your life and region.

Double all that if you have a spouse, children, nieces & nephews, or parents :-)

"I have a right to defend myself. I have a right AND A RESPONSIBILITY to defend AND PROTECT my family."

(RAH had a pretty good list of thing a competent adult should be able to do: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.")

traditionalguy said...

@ Guy...The Common law recognised that when a person is going down and needs help fast that the worst thing they need is an amateur that may "know nothing about birthing no babies". Reliance upon a helper, that has too much weight in his pockets for example, acts to sideline other competent helpers who then stand aside. So the rule became that if you jump in to help, then you cannot neglect to help and make it worse after running off other potential helpers. The target defendants in life like MD's had learned to walk away because of litigation happy people. Thus the law's amendment. Incidentally, a Labrador retriever will always jump in to save its master who only splashed and yelled at someone, and can actually drown the master trying to help.

traditionalguy said...

Last thought...Ronald Reagan was a great Life Saver that knew his trade well and kept doing it until age 77. There are 11% of the population that are Meyers-Briggs personality types called Guardians They are always saving people. The USA has been blessed with several of them as Presidents starting with Washington and ending with Reagan.

Kirby Olson said...

Why didn't the Frenchman's girlfriend jump in and save the baby?

I think she should have jumped in while the man screamed for help.

But non, non, non.

C'est l'homme qui sautait.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"I take it you have no spent much time recently with a 2 year old of the species. They're elusive and tricky with no sense of gravity."

On the contrary, I've spent many years around such children of that age, and never once allowed one of them to walk off a platform 20 feet above a frozen river because I'm a good parent.

These parents are morons and the gene pool is lessened just that much more by the actions of the Frenchman.

It used to be that Darwin took advantage of these situations to ensure the continued betterment of the species of man.

Alas, the French have fucked that up too.

Theo Boehm said...
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Penny said...

"...because I'm a good parent."

No argument from all us "kids" here at Althouse, New Ham. ;)

Theo Boehm said...
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g2loq said...

Here is to you Monsieur Duret for as all good Frenchman you know that Glory is fleeting but Obscurity for ever ...

I bow!

Penny said...

"Which one are you, Penny, the "fat" mirror, or the "skinny" mirror, here in the Funhouse?"

Both, or none, depending. I'm not much for crowds or long lines, Theo.

LL said...

New "Hussein" Ham wrote in response to my statement that "A father is supposed to jump in and save his child. It is part of the job description.":

No, a father is supposed to make sure his 2-year-old kid can't possibly fall 20 feet into a freezing river.

That's his job.

Both are in the job description.

olivden said...
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olivden said...
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olivden said...
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olivden said...

hussein ham,
are you pissed off about some WAR related things with France ???
then go on a war blog to spit your arrogant and ignorant arguments.
THIS is a discussion about a child being saved from certain death. that's all ! stop acting so needy !
HUMILITY might help you along this arduous path you're on.
Duret is certainly made of something you don't have.