Man Killed by the Metro and Bystanders

by Darby on Février 7, 2015 - 10:25pm

On January 16th 2014, 59 year-old Radil Hebrich was struck by a metro train at the Langelier station. He was inebriated and crossed over the yellow line when an in-coming metro train hit him in the head. For approximately twenty minutes, he lay on the ground bleeding and not breathing, without any help.

The man was seen by at least 40 passersby and 3 metro drivers, none of whom intervened. One person did stifle through his pockets perhaps looking for identification but never checked for a pulse. Of the three metro drivers, two walked by him without a second thought and the third exited the vehicle to look at the man but the retreated to the cabin.

First responders finally arrived after a gruelling 16 minutes. However, Hebrich remained deprived of oxygen for another 3 minutes before efforts were made to re-oxygenate the man. According to coroner Jacques Ramsay, Hebrich suffered “a deep cut to the right side of his head, multiple skull fractures, and an “unstable” fracture of one of his vertebrae”. At 4:21 am on January 17th 2014, Hebrich passed away.

The Algerian born architect had come to Quebec with his wife in the 1990s and was unable to find work which resulted in his alcoholism. Regardless of this, I am left with one question. Why? Why didn’t anyone try to help?

The “bystander effect” could have been to blame for Hebrich’s suffering. Often, people do not step in because they assume someone else already has.

The coroner’s report published in December puts part of the blame on us, Hebrich’s fellow Montrealers. The coroner Jacques Ramsay said “the indifference of the passengers says a lot about the apathy of citizens”.

I believe he is right in saying so. I believe that we all have a moral obligation to help our fellow human beings. We cannot simply refuse to see what is directly in front of us. Misfortune can befall anyone at any time. I should hope that if something were to happen to myself, my friends or my family, someone would be there to help. In a modern day society, we should be able to rely on the beneficence of strangers in times of need.

In the past, I have myself been both very surprised by the kind-heartedness and the apathy of the members of our society. When I was in a car crash last week, other drivers stopped right away to see if I was okay and to call for help. However, when I was ten years old and had a severe cut on my knee from a bicycle accident, I was ignored by all those around me. There have been times when people instantly came to my aid and other times when I had to forcibly seek out aid from nearby strangers who warily dodged me. 

I would only hope that if you ever come across a person whom you think might be in distress that you would help in some way. What I am asking for is that we all carry out at least the most basic help. Asking a person if they are alright, calling 911, and checking for a pulse are all very simple actions that can be tremendously helpful. I commend the majority of you who do step in and do help.

However, Hebrich is a sad reminder that we must all be ever vigilant and never assume that someone else has already intervened. If you think something is wrong, do something about it.

To read the original article “Bystanders ignored man dying on metro platform, coroner says” published in the Gazette on February 6th 2015 written by Monique Muise follow this link: