Staten Island missing boys story: Was there a ‘duty to rescue’?

Filed in Gather News Channel by on November 2, 2012 0 Comments

Hurricane Sandy swept through Staten Island and now boasts the lives of two missing boys among its 90 casualties, allegedly ripping the two children from their mother’s arms as she fought high waters, crashing waves and a man who allegedly refused them shelter.

Glenda Moore says she hit a large hole with her Ford Explorer and became stuck, unable to maneuver the SUV out of the hole and out of the path of swirling waters around her and her sons, Brandon, age 2, and Connor, age 4.

What a horrible situation.

As the children’s mother sought to free herself and her children from their car seats Sandy get on coming. Finally, with both children in her grasp, she made her way to a nearby uprooted tree and held on for a long period according to a CNN report.

Eventually, however, the weary and wet mother couldn’t handle the 90 per mile an hour winds, pelting rain and fatigue, loosening her grip on both children, who were then swept away in the flowing waters from her.

Water pluss waterMakes one wonder why a person would leave the safety of the vehicle. If it couldn’t be driven away then it couldn’t be moved by the storm either, right? So what’s wrong with this picture?

And that’s where the story moves into a “which person is lying” phase.

Glenda claims that out of her desperation she scaled a fence to get to the nearest neighborhood home, which is a large several storied property and occupied by a man who became hostile to the CNN camera crew days later.

Watching the video clip of the man’s anger gives credence to her claims that he refused her aid. But then when he shares his story it is understandable why he might have responded to the camera crew the way he did.

According to her, the night of the storm she sought assistance from him but he refused. She claims to have sought to break into a property in that vicinity as well, throwing rocks to try to break a window, but she also says she eventually gave up on gaining shelter when she was unable to find it or help for her and her two missing sons. She sought shelter for the night, eventually approaching a patrol officer’s car in the morning for help.

The man who is said to have refused to rescue her and her children from the storm, who was interviewed by a CNN crew, tells a different story. He says a man came to the back of his home and asked him to come out and help him, but that he threw rocks at his window when he refused to endanger himself by going into the storm-tossed night or open his door. He says there was no woman or little children.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper was curious about any legality to aid that might exist in such a case, if the man is telling the truth—or if police are investigating to see if the woman might be lying about events.

A duty to rescue responsibility obviously exists with emergency personnel, but no record of any being called has been mentioned.

There is a “duty to rescue” responsibility to those who own property if they have invited a person onto their premises and that person becomes endangered on their property, or in their homes. There is not, however, such a duty to rescue if the person is a trespasser, or if that person is attempting to gain unlawful access to their property due to danger outside the home owner’s property lines.

Ten states in the U.S. had laws on the books in 2009 that required their citizens to do one of two things in certain circumstances involving a person in peril: contact law enforcement or provide aid. Those 10 states are California, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

That leaves out New Jersey, where Glenda Moore and her two missing boys were at the time of the terrible tragedy.

There are also the biblically based Good Samaritan laws, which are generally ignored according to Wikipedia, but they don’t seek to provide aid as much as they seek to protect people like the man who refused to help Moore (if they do come to the aid of a stranger, and then the stranger sues them for their willingness to help—or their inability to save a life).

Yes, people actually try to sue their rescuers!

(Photo Credit: Destinelee)

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Open-minded until all the facts are in, and then I'm as stubborn as a mule, and as passionate as a groom on his wedding night.

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