Man Seeks To Prevent Suicide at University of Hawaii . . . Rescuer Dies While Suicidal Man Survives From Fall From 14th Floor

UnknownThere is a bizarre tragedy in Honolulu where a man sought to keep a 19-year-old man from committing suicide at the University of Hawaii. The man on the ledge of the campus housing ended up taking both himself and the older man, aged 24, down with him. As fate would have it, the older man died and the suicidal man survived with serious injuries.

Both men fell from 14th floor. It is remarkable that the suicidal man survived.

If the suicidal man survives, there is a question of possible liability to the family of the deceased. There is no question of that the individual was distraught and possibly mentally disturbed. However, if he were found to be mentally capable, his actions were obviously reckless and likely criminal. As a result of those actions, the victim sought to rescue him. As first year law students learn in torts, in Wagner v. International Railway, 232 N.Y. 176 (1926), Justice Cardozo declared “Danger invites rescue. The cry of distress is the summons to relief […] The emergency begets the man. The wrongdoer may not have foreseen the coming of a deliverer. He is accountable as if he had.”

While a lawsuit is unlikely, such cases raise difficult issues of liability.

14 thoughts on “Man Seeks To Prevent Suicide at University of Hawaii . . . Rescuer Dies While Suicidal Man Survives From Fall From 14th Floor”

  1. i object to the objection re the adjective “older”. despite your personal perception, being older or younger is a descriptive fact. my older sister was my older sister when we were 1 and 4, at 12 and 15, 19 and 23, and still to date. to me, a 19-yr-old male is a boy, practically a baby, yet they prefer to be called men. hah. would it read better as “the older, but not elderly” or “the 3-4 years older, depending upon their birthdates” – ? that’s just silly. one could resort to “young man no. 1, less-young man no. 2”, or the mystifying tangle of the first guy/the second guy; the suicidal fellow/the would-be rescuer; jumper/attempted saviour – a bit terse. by this time professor turley has completed this commentary and is into the next. in any event, of interest/bewilderness to me are liabilities arising from outdoor sports: extreme sportsters [fools] aim to cheat death by climbing or free-skiing colorado’s 14ers in questionable weather, then require public and/or private rescue teams of some 2 dozen persons, plus helicopters, snowmobile teams or even dog teams, emergency medical aid, all of whom/which are put in harm’s way and, sometimes, end in loss of life amongst the rescuers…

    1. jr conklin – I had to think about it quite a bit before I objected to the use of the word. I am an older brother. However, the way it read sounded wrong. I am not sure that it is grammatically incorrect, still I would use a different word.

  2. steve

    Who’re you going to sue? If the guy felt like offing himself before he will certainly feel like it now.

  3. Weren’t we discussing recently the liability of an injured hiker in wilderness areas when he or she has to be rescued by a government agency? Why there’s no tort liability when a private party is the rescuer is bewildernessing.

  4. Nick,
    Isn’t this also Obama’s fault all, because it happened in Hawa’ii?

  5. Jerome – I had the same reaction you did to the use of older. My sympathies goes out to both families and to the boy. He is going to have to live with this.

  6. Now, that is a reason to kill oneself. How many more people does he have to hurt before he gets it right. Perhaps if the gun laws weren’t so restrictive?

  7. If the family of the dead guy sues the guy who lived then the living survivor will jump off the roof of the courthouse while the jury is out. The jurors will blame his death on themselves for failing to deliberate in a reasonable time. The jurors will then rule against the family of dead guy in favor of dead guy number two. By the time the folks all make it home after a few drinks at the bar, the two dead guys will be on cloud nine looking down and laughing at the whole thing. Meanwhile the guys at Google up on the same cloud will be sorting out Hillary’s private emails and flagging the ones they deem worthy of examination by a human down on Earth at the offices of the FBI and the Republicon National Committee. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is considering a run. A three mile run.

  8. While a 24 year old is indeed older than a 19 year old, it seems a strange usage. Older usually means much older or elderly.

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