The Sheepdog Concept


January 13th, 1982: Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac River. Only six of the 74 passengers survived the crash and ended up in the icy water. While a helicopter was able to come in and snatch four of the 6 passengers one disappeared under the water while another – Priscilla Tirado – helplessly struggled in the 33 degree water.  Unable to hold on to the rope lowered by the helicopter she began to drown. A bystander who witnessed the crash while he was walking home could not take it any longer. He could not stand there and watch this woman drown. He removed his coat and jumped in the water. He swam over to her as she laid just under the water, grabbed her – and pulled her to the bank.

He saved her life.

This is the epitome of the Sheepdog.


Not everyone can jump into action and put themselves into harm’s way. Not everyone can be a Sheepdog. Can it be learned or developed? Probably. People are just wired in different ways.

I have had several situations where things were happening nearby and I could not just sit back and not get involved. Sometimes it was preventing someone from getting hurt. Sometimes it was standing up for someone. Sometimes it was helping someone who was already hurt. Risk evaluation has to be done but sometimes there just isn’t any time.

Saturday evening I was walking through Uptown Charlotte, NC with a friend. Walking down the sidewalk along the busy street I came towards a metal bench. I wasn’t looking at it rather just walking with my friend talking. In an instant, I saw a child run around from the front of the bench to the back of it and then straight towards the car filled street. I didn’t think about it I just moved. I ran and grabbed the kid – about 2 years old – just inches from the street. Did I save the kids life? I don’t know. The father noticed the kid as well and put his hand out in front of the child right at the same time I got to him.

My heart was pounding in my chest. My buddy said he didn’t see anything and just saw me take off. Some big, muscular guy said his heart was racing because he thought the kid was going to get hit. I almost said it but didn’t – “Why did you just stand there?”

The answer to that question is not everyone reacts the same nor has the capability to react the same.

As for me – I will continue to mind my own business until it’s time NOT to mind my own business.



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