Wellington: A man battling serious health problems unwittingly saved the life of a badly bashed man because he did not want to be guilty of the bystander effect. David Batchelor, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, was sitting in his car on Central Road in Kingsland in November after attending an open mic night when he witnessed a brutal assault.
He picked the victim up off the road and drove him to Auckland City Hospital’s emergency department, which police say saved his life. Unbeknown to Batchelor at the time, the victim had a near-fatal break to his neck and any movement could have killed or paralysed him. At the time Batchelor, a 22-year-old master’s degree student, only realised how serious the situation was when police released a photograph of him from hospital security footage and appealed for him to come forward.
“The street was empty and I was sitting in the car texting. I saw three people walking up the street,” he said. He then saw one of the men assault another. That man pleaded guilty to the assault in the Auckland District Court.
Batchelor said the assault left the victim unconscious on the road. “I was like ‘holy crap’. I waited until the [offender] walked past my car and then I got out to see if the [victim] was okay,” he said. As the victim came to, Mr Batchelor helped him into the passenger seat, which he had adjusted so the man could lie down. He considered calling 111 but decided it was quicker to take the victim to hospital himself.
After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September, Batchelor was undergoing chemotherapy and not feeling well. But he did not hesitate to help the victim. “Why did I do what I did? I was concerned about the whole bystander effect and I didn’t want to be part of that,” he said.