On Saturday night Tyler Guthrie and Tucker Johnson were driving when they saw a car go into a pond and flip over. The airbag went off and trapped Thomas Nolen, of Centralia, as the car filled with water. He was screaming for help.
Water pressure kept the teens from opening the car door. They threw rocks at the back window to shatter it. Then Tyler helped Nolen out as Tucker went to call 911.
Carlyle’s police chief said the two seniors from Carlyle High saved Nolen’s life.
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A few hours later, teens from Breese Central were partying at a clubhouse near Germantown. Jacob J. Arter, 18, was a month from graduation and then college.
A 17-year-old came up and punched Arter. That young man now faces a manslaughter charge.
Other teens left Arter on the ground for at least 10 minutes until college student Kaylie Smothers, of Breese, found out about it.
“I ran over there and asked, ‘Why isn’t anybody taking him to the hospital? He needs medical help.’ Everybody was looking at me like I was stupid,” Smothers said.
Quick action saves a man. Thoughtless action possibly coupled with failure to act leaves a teen dead.
Impulses, synaptic connections, so little in that flash of a moment can separate the heroic from the criminally stupid. Then the repercussions last for decades.