Archive for May 17th, 2012

by jhwygirl

With the Clark’s Fork rising, search efforts on a 15 mile stretch of river were called off after efforts both last night and this morning and afternoon failed to turn up the body of a male 19 year old UM student.

The student had jumped into the river with a female companion early yesterday evening around 6:30. Response was instantaneous, as community member Mikal Anderson was on the trail adjacent to the Madison Street footbridge (where the jump was made.) Anderson – a certified EMT and lifeguard instructor – jumped into the river after the young man who had immediately showed signs of trouble once he surfaced briefly from the jump.

I hope he gets the public thanks that he deserves for his effort.

While the loss of a life under such a reckless act does leave me shaking my head wondering why anyone would jump into the flooding waters of a Montana river, what I heard on KECI on this evening’s news leaves me very disturbed. And concerned for the still-visibly shaken Danielle Chesley who witnessed the jump.

Ms. Chesley tells the the story of a young man who was goaded into jumping by a girl – even after having expressed a fear of the water and its temperature. here is the interview, but be warned that you might find it upsetting.

My heart goes out not only to the family of the victim, but also to Danielle – who expresses concern for the (as of yet) unnamed victim’s family. While the family will no doubt struggle with this loss, they will struggle more with the knowledge that some companion of their son prodded him to do something despite his clearly demonstrated misgivings over his ability to handle the situation.

A tragedy. In some ways, a tragedy multiple times over.

After watching the KECI interview, I can’t help but think of what bullying does. Hazing is another form of bullying – and whether the victims are 9 or 19, the results can be tragic. Undoubtedly there was no intent to cause harm, but there also appears to be a lack of concern for the personal safety of the victim.

I am leaning towards this having been a situation of bullying – and I am left wondering what we can do as a society to change the community standards that create an environment where this kind of behavior happens.

Life is never perfect and there will always be tragedies – but recognizing the factors that bring about situations like that which resulted in the tragedy witnessed by Danielle Chesley yesterday evening may be one step in ensuring that a life is saved the next time someone considers pushing someone too far. Or the next time someone considers “yes” to doing what the victim did when the jumped from the bridge.

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