Ethics Hero: Sixth Grader Davyon Johnson

This story out of Muskeegee County, Oklahoma, seems too good to be true. I hope it is true. It is a measure of how much distrust the news media has engendered that such a story is impossible to accept without doubt today. Here, however, is the story we are being told.

Davyon Johnson, 11 years-old, was near the water fountain at his school on December 9 when he heard a seventh-grade boy gasp, “I’m choking! I’m choking!” The kid had used his mouth to open a water bottle and the cap had popped down his throat.  Davyon, who had learned  the Heimlich maneuver off of YouTube (his uncle is an emergency med tech, which Dayvon says he also aspires to be), began applying it to the older boy. On the third squeeze to the boy’s abdomen, the cap flew out.

Later that evening, when his mother was driving with Davyon on the way to an evening church service, the car passed a house that had some smoke billowing out of it. Ms. Johnson says that Davyon persuaded her to turn the vehicle around and check. They saw small fire near the back of the house, and cars outside that indicated that there might be people in the house who may not have been aware of the fire. Davyon’s mom honked her horn and called 911. Davyon got out of the car and knocked on the door.

Five people in the house stepped outside; they had not been aware of the fire. They ran, leaving an elderly woman with a walker struggling to leave the burning home on her own. (Nice.)  Davyon helped her along and led her to the truck that the rest had climbed into.

When he was 8 years old, Davyon said later, he watched his father enter a burning apartment complex to make sure everyone was safe.  Davyon’s father  died last summer.

The Muskogee Police Department and Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office presented Davyon with a certificate on December 15 in recognition of his big day of community service. According to media accounts, the boy claims to not understand why everyone is making such a big deal over him doing what he calls “the right thing.” ‘I don’t want everyone to pay attention to me. I kind of did what I was supposed to do,” he was quoted as telling a teacher.

Here’s the kicker, which depending on how cynical you have become, will either get you choked up or make you thing, “Oh, come on!” The New York Times reports that Davyon doesn’t tell people about his recent burst of heroism unless he’s asked, and even then relates a simple, straightforward account.

“But there was one person he did want to tell,” says the Times. “One morning this month, he put on his sneakers and gray hoodie and went to the cemetery to see his father. He squatted, picked at the dirt and started to tell the stories, beginning with the scene at the water fountain.”

Luckily, a newspaper photographer just happened to be passing by…


Source: New York Times

15 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Sixth Grader Davyon Johnson

  1. I hope it’s true as well, but there’s no way I can accept a story like this at face value without significant corroboration from someone other than the dailies, wire services, network and cable channels.

    I feel that’s a sad commentary on … well, me, I guess, for cynicism and mistrust. But I think the media, and particularly the Times, has earned that cynicism and mistrust over and over again.

  2. At this point the story being completely true or elaborated for effect is irrelevant to me, the story warms the heart and sparks hope for the future and that is something that’s sorely needed in our society today.

  3. I believe all of it except the part where s photographer just happened to be at the cemetery.

    I absolutely believe this kid and his incredible humanity and humility. But I think the photographer followed him to the cemetery (with or without his knowledge) because “never let a good story go to waste “.

    • Does the photo credit a particular journalist? It could easily have been taken by the mother on her cellphone and picked up by the news services.

      • No. But no matter who it was taken by, it feels staged to me. Impossible to know, of course, but the boy never volunteered the story of the rescues, but somehow reporters know that he went and told his dead father about them.

    • I hope Davyon lays off whatever food he’s been eating that’s gottem him so overweight at such a tender age, so he lives a good, long life.

  4. I want to believe but the photo suggests that it was taken closer to the day of interment given no grass around the grave. Given the temp in December was in the mid 70’s I would have expected to see some grass or weeds surrounding the marker. This photo could have been taken when the marker was placed later.
    Nonetheless, assuming the other part of the story is accurate and we know the Times desire to cast their favorites in the most positive light and their adversaries in the worst, it can be assumed that the statement about his modesty is contrived.
    I find no value in being cynical about this story.

    • No value at all…except that we have all been fooled, lied to and spun so often, we are way beyond “fool me twice, shame on me.” More like, “Fool me 64,874 times, shame on me.” The alternatives are to be a cynic, or be a mark.

      • cynic
        a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons.
        “some cynics thought that the controversy was all a publicity stunt”
        a person who questions whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile.
        “the cynics were silenced when the factory opened”
        skeptic · doubter · doubting Thomas · scoffer · pessimist ·

        • Whenever I’m accused by anyone of being a cynic, my response is, “Damned straight.” And I should probably add, “Do you know what ‘cynic’ means?”

          My being firmly within the first definition explains why I believe capitalism is the ONLY workable economic system. All others fail because self-interest conquers all, while capitalism flourishes because of self-interest. And there will never be a shortage of self-interest. I doubt we’re anywhere near peak self-interest and never will approach it. Humankind has an asymptotic relationship with self-interest.

    • Well . . . considering how sparse the grass is everywhere else that’s visible in the shot, and how common the bare, dry dirt is throughout, I’m willing to buy that the photo was taken in December when it’s colder and the grass is in hibernation (for lack of a better term) rather than in the summertime of August nearer to the date of his father’s passing.

      And yeah, I’m also thinking the picture was taken by Mom and subsequently used by the press.


      • Dwayne,
        You could be correct but there is no dirt splatter on what appears to be fresh concrete at the base. I thought it odd that a picture taken of the marker in December would look as fresh as the day it was installed. There even appears to be a wheelbarrow tire mark in the dirt behind the marker. I suppose my actual point was that the photo was taken at the time of the marker installation.

        Above Jack posited that we can be a cynic or a mark. If my those are my choices, I will allow being a mark for something like this. Far too many kids don’t get any recognition at all so if this story is embellished a bit so what does that matter. It does not harm me in any way and might add value to a kid who lost his dad. Sometimes one event can positively alter a child’s future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.