John McDonald
(July 2009)

John McDonald isn’t just an Ethics Hero, he’s a hero, period. Driving to work on L.A.’s 10 Freeway as he does every day, from his home in West Covina to Venice, California, he saw a burning car, flipped on its side. Many of us would have slowed down, decided that someone would be responding soon, and drive on. Some of us would have called 911, as good citizens, to make sure of that. Some would have stopped to see if anyone was hurt, a reaction which would be even more admirable.

McDonald stopped, but he went a critical step further. He discovered that three passengers had escaped the car, but one of them began screaming to him that her granddaughter was trapped inside. Immediately, McDonald ran to the car and pulled the 3-year-old girl out. The car could have exploded. They both could have burned. Nonetheless, he risked his own life for a stranger.

We can only hope that in a similar situation we would react as John McDonald did. Maybe having his story in the back of our minds can make that more likely. Whatever combination of basic values, instinct, courage and selflessness it takes to turn a typical citizen into a hero, McDonald had it when it mattered.

That’s really what ethics is all about.

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