#ShowMeYourBrave: He Did Not Die Alone
This submission comes from reader K.L., a mother of two, and one of the kindest people I know. The courage it would take to do this is beyond my comprehension. To live with this experience forever ingrained in your mind would be horrible. Human strength is amazing, isn’t it?
Nineteen years ago this May I watched a young 15-year-old boy bleed to death in my driveway while I tried to help him until the ambulance arrived.
His name was Andre Matthews — He was an honour student with a bright future and he had a family that was so proud of him and loved him dearly. He was walking a female classmate home after school and another young man who had eyes for this girl became enraged with jealousy over the friendship between Andre and this young lady.
We were living in Scarborough at the time; my oldest daughter was not quite 3-years-old yet and I was excitedly telling my husband about my First Aid course that I had taken through work. I wanted to take the course because I was a mother with a young child and wanted to be in a position that I could deal with any emergency that should arise if my child should choke or fall or whatever. I didn’t want to feel powerless to help my child or any one else that needed some kind of basic first aid assistance. Never did I ever imagine it would be put into play on my front lawn.
We were sitting down to supper when I heard a scream. I looked out the window of our third floor triplex and saw a young boy stumbling up the sidewalk with blood all over his shirt and a young girl screaming for help. My husband reached for the phone to call 911 and I flew down the stairs with a roll of paper towels. As I approached the young man, I realized that this was far more serious than what I had seen from upstairs — I was quite certain his carotid artery had been cut because the blood was coming out like a fountain.
Regardless, I approached the boy and convinced him to lie down on the grass so I could apply direct pressure to the wound until the EMT’s arrived. He reluctantly agreed all the while saying he needed to get home to his mother. I spoke to him and told him we would notify his mother and a neighbour provided me with some towels to press into the wound. A man who got off the bus came over and put his hands over mine and told me to keep applying pressure and that I was doing a good job. . . to this day I have no idea who he was and when I turned to thank him he was gone as quickly as he had appeared by my side (guardian angel?).
It all seemed surreal – like a nightmare.
The fire truck was the first to arrive and then the ambulance. The ambulance was there for a long time which I knew was not a good sign.
Despite all of our best efforts, the boy passed away from his injuries.
I remember so vividly looking at his young handsome face and seeing the exposed bone from the numerous slashes made by his murderer. It was horrifying to think a human being could do this to another person. We later found out it was caused by a hunting knife used by a boy just slightly older than Andre. As part of the due diligence, a police contacted me regarding counselling for what I had experienced.
I asked the officer to please tell the family that he did not die alone in the street, that I was there, a mother to hold his hand and bring him some comfort.
I knew if that was my son I would want to know this. The family asked to meet my husband and I, and while I was afraid, I went because the police said it might offer me some closure in this matter. Andre had such a wonderful family that embraced us with love and thanks for our efforts; we attended his funeral as well. It took me years to come to terms with it all — more fear for my own child and her safety in the world — needless to say we moved away from there not long after.
His murderer was eventually caught. I had glimpsed enough of him running away to help the police do their job as well as others who had seen him and the young girl who had been with Andre when the attack occurred. Five years later I heard about his murderer being convicted as an adult, and I believe he was sentenced to seven years — a small price to pay for a human life.
After all was said and done I realized something new about myself: that I can put aside my own feelings of horror, disgust, fear, etcetera in order to deal with an emergency and focus on the person in need and not my own feelings and fears — I never knew I could do such a thing until that moment.
The #ShowMeYourBrave Project asks people, “What’s the bravest, scariest, or most intimidating thing you’ve ever done?”. The idea of the project is to share stories of everyday bravery and human resilience to bring us closer together. In sharing, we not only find our voices, but we find support, allies, and others who have faced similar challenges. If you would like to submit your story, we would love to feature your bravery here.