A Human Shield
On July 29, 2006, Australian tourist Kimberley Dear, 21, took a skydiving lesson at an airport near St. Louis, Missouri. Tragically, the plane developed engine problems after takeoff and crashed. The skydiving instructor, Robert Cook, 22, was able to save the life of Kimberley by acting as a human shield to cushion her, although he and five other people died. Kimberley’s father, Bill, said about Mr. Cook, “When he realized the plane was actually going to crash, he grabbed Kimberley and he calmly talked to her and he told her that the plane was going to crash. [He] told her what to expect and what to do and kept her calm and focused her attention on him and what he was saying rather than what was happening around her. […] as the plane was coming down, he put his arms around her and pulled her close. As he pulled her close, her head rested on his shoulders. He put his head against hers to stop it flopping around. He said to her, ‘As the plane is about to hit the ground, make sure you’re on top of me so that I’ll take the force of the impact.’ The plane actually hit, they believe, a power pole or a power line and it went into a vertical situation, and she became a little bit disoriented, but she felt Robert actually twist his body around until Kim was on top of him and when the plane hit the ground, he took the full force of the impact.” Kimberley’s sister, Tracey Dear, said, “There’s nothing … I can’t even put it into words, but the only thing I can think of is saying thank you so much. I can’t believe that in this world when so many people are so jaded that there are people out there like that. He met Kimberley, as far as I know, that day. I would do that for her but I can’t believe that a stranger who just met her would knowingly give up his life for her. I just want his family to know we appreciate that from the bottom of our heart.” In 2008, the Governor-General of Australia awarded Mr. Cook the Star of Courage. Kimberley said, “There aren’t many people who would put their life on the line for a stranger—you might do it for the people you love, but would you do it for someone you just met?” Kimberley was severely injured in the plane crash, but she learned to walk again.
For More Information: “Skydiver’s bravery saves Aussie’s life.” The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 August 2006 <http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/skydivers-bravery-saves-aussies-life/2006/08/02/1154198169252.html>.
For More Information: Dan Silkstone, “Father’s tears for battered daughter lying in pain.” The Age. 11 January 2007 <http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/fathers-tears-for-battered-daughter-lying-in-pain/2007/01/10/1168105052459.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2>.
For More Information: Jordan Baker and Beck Eleven, “Bravest of the brave honoured for selfless acts.” The Sydney Morning Herald. 17 March 2008 <http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/at-23-he-gave-his-life-to-save-another/2008/03/16/1205602195110.html>.
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