Monday, February 2, 2009

Kicked to the curb, ignored, homeless man dies while others step around him

OK, so everybody knows about this by now, but I have to comment because by tomorrow, the story will be gone.

A homeless man is struck by two others, hits his head, falls unconscious, and dies shortly afterwards. He lays in the middle of the sidewalk in Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C., for twenty minutes before someone calls an ambulance.

That's what happened to 31-year-old Jose Sanchez last Tuesday. People in the neighborhood said they're used to seeing people passed out drunk in the neighborhood, and put Mr. Sanchez in that category.

Sorry, though-- Mr. Sanchez was in the middle of the sidewalk, NOT where people choose to pass out. People stepped around this guy, for God's sake.

But actually, who cares where he was laying.

I have never passed by someone on the street who was not conscious without at least stopping and making a judgment about his or her well-being. Sometimes I speak to the person. Sometimes I tell a cop, or call an ambulance, and sometimes I pass on-- but never without thought.

I think many people are like me, and I think there are many more who would take some kind of action if they had any idea how to do it. But they don't know the protocol, don't know what's polite or impolite, don't know what to do.

So I ask everyone to take a moment, right now, and think about what you would do if you saw a person unconscious on the sidewalk. A little mental practice will make it easier to act.

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