CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

How to balance helping someone in crisis with protecting yourself

Apr 19, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2023, 9:32 am

This undated photo provided by Ben Crump Law shows Ralph Yarl, the teenager shot by a homeowner in ...

This undated photo provided by Ben Crump Law shows Ralph Yarl, the teenager shot by a homeowner in Kansas City, Mo. (Ben Crump Law via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Ben Crump Law via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — What do we need to think about before helping someone in a crisis situation? What if 911 dispatch tells you, the caller, to stay inside even though someone outside needs help and fast? Protect yourself first because the professionals likely know better, advises a Utah sheriff’s sergeant. 

Three news stories are trending today (4/19/23) on MSNBC:

  1. Thinking it was their car, two high school cheerleaders in Texas were shot after mistakenly getting into the wrong car.
  2. Kaylin Gillis, 20, was shot and killed Saturday night in upstate New York when she accidentally pulled into the wrong driveway. The suspect is in custody and is charged with murder.
  3. A Kansas City man, Andrew Lester, 84, who stands accused of twice shooting a Black teen who mistakenly rang the doorbell at Lester’s home surrendered to police Tuesday but is now out on bail. 

Black teen who knocked on wrong door shot by homeowner. Legal expert discusses case.

It’s being reported that the Black teen, Ralph Yarl, 16, knocked on neighbors’ doors but couldn’t get help.

“Unfortunately, he had to run to three different homes before someone finally agreed to help him after he was told to lie on the ground with his hands up,” Ralph’s aunt Faith Spoonmore wrote in a GoFundMe post she set up for her nephew, as reported by People magazine.

That someone (who calls herself Jody) heard a loud banging at her door. But ignored the advice of a 911 operator that night to stay inside because of a possible active shooter nearby and chose to help Ralph who was bleeding out on the ground. Jody was assisted by another neighbor, mechanic James Lynch.

Are Americans too afraid to be helping in a crisis?

Are Americans too afraid to be good samaritans? Afraid of getting hurt or getting sued or both?

Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office joins Dave & Dujanovic to share his expertise.

Also, KSL legal analyst Greg Skordas explains Utah’s Good Samaritan law and how it applies and how it doesn’t.

“If 911 tells us to stay inside, but our instincts tell us we got to get out there and help, what do we?” Debbie asked.

“I have a really hard time telling somebody ‘Don’t go and help them’ because I understand why they want to. I like to think that I would do the same thing and go out and help that person.

“Paramedics and EMTs would be better trained to help that person medically,” Sgt. Cannon said. “Law enforcement would be better trained to confront the danger that is present — should there be an active shooter out there. But that’s hard to balance that when you see a person out there who clearly needs help.”

Cannon compared the Ralph Yarl predicament to being involved in a crash, pulling to the side of the road, calling 911 and the dispatcher telling you stay inside your car for your own safety.

“If I’m in my car, and we all know that cars at the side of the road have been hit, it happens all too often. If I get out of my car, am I safer outside of my car if I get hit? Or inside my car if I get hit? The answer is clearly you’re much safer in your car where you’re more protected,” Cannon said.

Good Samaritan law

A person who renders emergency care at or near the scene of, or during, an emergency, gratuitously and in good faith, is not liable for any civil damages or penalties as a result of any act or omission by the person rendering the emergency care, unless the person is grossly negligent or caused the emergency.”

“I understand the law can’t physically protect somebody like Dave if bullets are flying, certainly,” Debbie said, “but we have a Good Samaritan law here [in Utah]. So will it protect him if he jumped into action, and he did the wrong thing and he got sued?”

Skordas said the Good Samaritan law in Utah will protect anyone who chooses to help someone in crisis. However, no law requires someone to lend help to another.

“As citizens we don’t have a legal obligation to jump in when we see someone hurt,” he said. The Good Samaritan law is “designed to encourage people to jump in and help, knowing or at least believing, that they’re probably not going to be sued or get in trouble if they don’t do things exactly right.”

Related:

“They’re gone, and you knew,” phone call between Lori Vallow Daybell and son Colby Ryan

 

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

police cars...

Mariah Maynes

SLCPD identify two killed in workplace shooting

Salt Lake City Police Department said they have identified two men who were killed in a workplace shooting on Sunday. 

18 hours ago

police cars...

Mark Jackson

Two men dead in Salt Lake workplace shooting

One man was found inside the building, another outside. Police don’t believe there’s an imminent threat.

1 day ago

Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Scot Peterson shown, a school arming school staff is aw...

Curt Gresseth

Utah lawmaker discusses arming school workers

Arming school workers will lead to safer schools, says a Utah lawmaker whose bill awaits the governor's pen to become law.

4 days ago

Bountiful police car...

JOSH ELLIS KSLTV.com

One man dead after shooting in Bountiful

Officers in Bountiful arrived on the scene and found a man in his 20s with a gunshot wound. The man later died at the hospital.

5 days ago

execution chamber in idaho prison...

Associated Press

Idaho halts execution by lethal injection after 8 failed attempts to insert IV line

Thomas Eugene Creech Creech, one of the longest-serving death row inmates in the U.S., was wheeled into the execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution on a gurney at 10 a.m.

5 days ago

Ruby Franke stands with her attorney, Lamar Winward, at her sentencing on Tuesday. Her brother and ...

Jessica Lowell

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt transferred to Utah State Correctional Facility

The two women will each spend one to 15 years at the facility for child abuse.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

How to balance helping someone in crisis with protecting yourself