When you notice someone in trouble, you have three options: walk on by, pretending you never saw it; run for help; or step in. Many like to believe we wouldn’t pick the first option, but in reality, who knows what we’d do if we were actually faced with a dangerous situation? However, for these four Canadian teenagers, turning a blind eye was never an option. The group of friends went above and beyond when they had a worrying gut instinct.
The funny thing is, when we read crazy stories such as these, we always say to ourselves that it could never happen to us. When we watch people risking their lives on national television, we always say, “Right, but that would never happen to me.” The truth is that life has a way of throwing us curveballs when we least expect it. These young teens didn’t expect to be taken for a ride like they were, but when push came to shove, their instincts perked up like wildfire – and the rest was history.
Just an ordinary evening
Four boys were having an ordinary night in April 2015. Carsyn Wright, Arnaud Nimenya, Starlyn Rivas-Perez, and James Hielema were in the underground parking lot of the Chinook Centre Mall in Calgary, Alberta.
They were messing around and skateboarding just as many teens do. They had been practicing and just generally enjoying themselves, and were preparing to finish up for the night when something grabbed their attention. They couldn’t go anywhere without living with the consequences forever.
While down in the parking lot, the boys noticed two people passing through. However, what really chilled them to the bone was that it seemed to be a very well-dressed man, carrying a much younger girl over his shoulder.
The girl happened to be just 15-years-old and was screaming while the man carried her. She was clearly incredibly inebriated and distressed, which concerned the teen boys. They wondered if it was a father who had found his underage daughter drinking or something much more sinister…
Feeling something was off
The boys couldn’t take their eyes off of the man and young girl, and discussed the possibilities – both safe and dangerous. They eventually came to the conclusion that they needed to question the man.
They could not leave in good conscience, knowing that something could be going happening before their very eyes. The boys had no real plan as to what they were going to do, but they knew they had to do something. They approached the pair to ask what was going on.
Getting their answer
The man barely hesitated and told the boys that he was the girl’s father’s friend. He said that he was looking after her because she was highly intoxicated – which was true.
He told them that he had been trying to get ahold of her father on the phone but no one was picking up the other end. He said that he was waiting with her until he could get a lift to take her home. The boys didn’t ask any more of the man, for his explanation sounded pretty legitimate.
No more protests
The girl had stopped crying out and didn’t argue that he was lying. Instead, the young girl just stayed quiet, allowing the man to explain his story. Therefore, the four boys believed the man and had no further reason to doubt him.
Although the girl “was all scuffed up and dirty,” she hadn’t protested his reply, and the boys later stated that you just don’t want to think the worst of people. Many hope that the situation is nothing alarming. Surely everything will just work out fine?
The boys turned and left the man to carry on with his business. After all, he had given a solid explanation to the boys. He never seemed nervous, or like he wanted to get away from them, so they had no reason to be suspicious anymore.
They returned to their skateboards and other belongings to continue packing it all up. It had gotten late, and the boys knew they needed to return home. It wasn’t long before they picked up all their stuff and left the parking lot.
Instincts kick in
As the boys were walking home, they started talking about the situation. Every one of them admitted that things just didn’t feel right. The man had given a reasonable explanation, and he wasn’t lying, right?
The teenagers just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more to it. They had a gut instinct they couldn’t ignore, so decided that it was probably best for them to return to the parking lot and check up on the vulnerable young girl. They wouldn’t have forgiven themselves if they hadn’t.
Back to the parking lot
The group of friends walked back to the Chinook Centre parking lot, only to see that the pair were no longer there. They were getting increasingly worried that it was something much darker than the man had let on.
On the one hand, he could have been telling the truth; looking after his friend’s inebriated child. On the other hand, he could have been a complete stranger to the girl – with a much different motive. Either way, they weren’t about to take any chances on the girl’s life.
Searching for clues
When they arrived, they had an uneasy feeling at the absence of the man and 15-year-old. For many, this would have been a sign to go home – they were clearly safe and had gotten their lift home – but not for these Canadian boys.
They stood in the parking lot, trying to figure out where they could have gone. They considered what he’d said, and where they’d be, along with whether they might have been lying after all. The boys worked together and thought of the most likely location.
A surprise discovery
The boys walked to the stairwell, only to have successfully found them. However, what they found was like something from a nightmare. The man was assaulting the young girl, right there in front of their eyes. All four boys froze.
Carsyn Wright later described it as “disgusting,” and Arnaud Nimenya said that “you don’t know what to do” when you witness something so unbelievable. Despite their surprise, they knew now, more than ever, that she needed rescuing. They were not going to let him get away with it.
Assessing the situation
The man quickly noticed the four boys who had discovered his real intentions and realized instantly that he needed to leave the scene. He smiled at the boys in a way which Nimenya described as seeming to say “you can’t do anything about it.”
He pushed Nimenya out of his way and tried to make his way to the door. The boys, still somewhat frozen in surprise, couldn’t believe what was going on. They had just caught the man, and he thought he was going to just walk away!
Chasing him down
As the man walked out, he turned and noticed that three of the boys were chasing him. Nimenya, Rivas-Perez, and Hielema sprinted after the man, determined not to let him get away with such cruelty.
Wright waited with the young girl, assuring her that she was safe, as well as trying to help her in any way he could. The three 19-year-olds were prepared to chase the man on foot as far as he was willing to try and run. There was no way they could let him go free.
Fighting them off
When the man realized he could run no farther, and that the boys were not about to give up easily, he turned and took a skateboard from one of the group.
Not only had he just assaulted a young girl, but now he was trying to attack her saviors. He repeatedly tried to hit the boys with the board in an attempt to put them off of pursuing him further. However, they still weren’t giving up and ended up in a physical fight with the man.
Saving the day
Just moments later, the cops arrived. The boys had kept the man around just long enough that when the cops showed up, he had nowhere to hide. They handcuffed the girl’s attacker and charged him.
The man was arrested, while the boys were thanked for keeping hold of him. They then returned to the young girl and their friend to check they were okay. While the girl safely made her way back to her family, the boys went home – thankful for the hunch they had about the situation.
The fear of trouble
They thought that was the end of the mortifying story, but it wasn’t over just yet. The boys were getting repeated phone calls from the cops after they returned home. None of them wanted to answer the phone, in fear that they were about to be punished for fighting with the man.
Although they knew they couldn’t avoid the calls forever, they were worried about the possible consequences of their fight. They eventually picked up the phone, knowing that whatever was going to happen would come around sooner or later.
Blessed with an honor
It turned out, the phone call was a far cry from what they were expecting. The police profusely thanked the boys for saving the young girl’s life and ensuring that the man was caught for his crimes.
They were then invited to the Calgary Police Chief’s Awards Gala as a mark of appreciation and gratification to the boys. They were praised for being incredibly brave, and Carsyn Wright said that he hoped anyone else faced with the same situation would have done the same.
Saving the day
Along with the four teenage boys, other recipients include Jasmine Simpson and Juan Dolph.
This couple was in a car dealership’s parking lot in northeast Calgary when they witnessed an argument between a man and a woman, all while her children watched on. They watched as the man shouted at the woman before they saw him physically assault her. They waited with the woman and her petrified children until the police arrived, earning them a well-deserved Chief’s Award.
A brave act
Erin O’Connor also earned herself an award for her selfless bravery. She saw a fight break out in the parking lot of a convenience store and then witnessed the attacker fatally wound one of the men.
She chased the attacker off, to prevent him further harming either of his victims. Erin helped one man and had him in a stable position to wait for help. She then turned her attention to the man who had been severely injured, applying pressure and keeping him safe until he was taken to the hospital.
An unusual accident
John Eddy also saved a life, being told that without his assistance, the man he rescued would not have survived. He witnessed a car moving very unusually.
It didn’t move as the traffic lights shone green but then began moving across the intersection before eventually mounting a curb and crashing into a sign. Eddy knew it was strange and rushed to his help, discovering he had had a heart attack at the wheel. He gave the man CPR and mouth-to-mouth and ultimately saved his life.
Stepping in at the right time
Another recipient of the 2016 Chief’s Awards was Paris Hazelwanter. She witnessed a drive-by shooting and immediately worried about the woman in the car who had taken the brunt of the shots.
She ran to the car, dodging further oncoming bullets, and instructed other bystanders in order to save the woman. They worked together to get the woman out of the car and onto the grass verge. She relayed information to the emergency services and tried to keep the woman’s injuries at bay until professional help arrived.
A big deal
The Calgary Police Chief’s Awards Gala is a prestigious awards event which commemorates acts of bravery and courage within the Canadian city. They aim to honor those who have saved lives or been committed to helping others for no benefit of themselves.
The ceremony was created to praise people in the community who have bettered the lives of strangers as well as helped police to make the city safer. The boys were, therefore, the perfect candidates for the awards event with their unwavering courage and natural instincts.