The vast majority of Ethics Alarms posts about bystanders are negative, so this tale from New York City—come to think of it, the vast majority of ethics posts about New York City are negative too—-is a welcome change.
Uber driver Fritz Sam, 54, was driving a passenger to LaGuardia airport when he saw flames coming from a Brooklyn brownstone. Sam stopped his car and dashed into the burning building. He beat the fire department by about five minutes, and had guided two residents into the street to safety by the time firefighters arrived.
Who is the other Ethics Hero, Jemimah Wei? She was his passenger. Sam was driving her to the airport to catch a plane, but when he turned to her and asked, “Can we stop and help?” Wei, 29, immediately replied, “Obviously!”
It wasn’t obvious, though. In that situation, many passengers, I would guess most, would say, “Look, I have to catch this plane, and I’m sure someone has called 911. Please drive on.” There are so many rationalizations supporting that answer that it would be hard to resist for most riders, and most drivers as well.
Uber released a statement saying, “We’re incredibly grateful to have such a heroic and thoughtful member of our community in Fritz. Today, he went above and beyond to keep his neighbors in New York safe — and still managed to get his rider to the airport on time.”
Well, the last part is moral luck. If the incident had not been widely reported, I would not have been surprised to see Uber dismiss or discipline Sam, while reminding all drivers that it’s not their job to rush into burning buildings. The fire department would probably agree.
The bystander ethics posts are here; the posts in the general Ethics Alarms category of “the duty to rescue” are here. The most recent essay related to this fascinating topic was posted just last June: “Ethics Hero: Flaviane Carvalho.“
I find myself wondering if I have ever driven past a home or a building when smoke was visible. I know I’ve never run into a burning building.
The actions of Sam and Wei will trigger my ethics alarms in the future in that situation arises….at least I hope so.
Source: The Washington Post
According to the Post, Sam then turned to his passenger, Jemimah James Wei, and asked, “Can we stop and help?”
“Obviously!” Wei, 29, told him, despite the fact she had a flight to catch. Wei said she was touched by Sam’s “strong moral compass.”
“When I thought that there might me someone inside that building, there was something in me that couldn’t hold back and I just had to go inside,” Sam told CBS2’s Thalia Perez.