A Good Samaritan Tried to Help a Lost Toddler and All Hell Broke Loose
I like to hope that if I’m ever in a situation where I need help, I’ll be able to rely on the kindness of strangers. Unfortunately, that just got a little less likely after a Good Samaritan was not only beaten after trying to help a lost little girl, but was then shamed online.
On June 24th, a two-year-old girl in Lakeland, Florida, became separated from her parents while watching a game at an outdoor sports complex. According to a post on the Lakeland Police Department’s Facebook page this is what went down:
“A citizen who was at the at the game visiting a few friends noticed the young girl wandering by herself and believed that she was lost. The citizen attempted to ask the girl where her parents were and walked with her in hopes she could point them out.”
This was also backed up by witnesses.
When the parents found out that a man was with their daughter, they immediately assumed the worst.
“The parents were alerted by bystanders that the citizen was walking towards a playground and feared that the citizen was attempting to kidnap the child.” Instead of being like, “Hey, thanks for finding my kid!” the little girl’s father knocked the Good Samaritan to the ground and started beating him.
Police officers stepped in and cleared the man of any wrongdoing. Despite telling WFTS that he “didn’t regret” beating the man up, the girl’s father, Austin Strickland, still wasn’t satisfied. Strickland and members of his family went to social media and posted the Good Samaritan’s name, place of employment, and even pictures of him and his children. The posts were re-tweeted and shared, spreading like wildfire.
The Lakeland Police Department tried to warn locals about posting false information.
“Accounts of this incident have circulated on social media with false information and speculation. Posting false information on Facebook could cause a defamation of character claim and those posting false information could be held liable. Be careful about what you post on social media so as not to victimize an innocent person. Before posting information on matters such as this, we encourage people to identify the source and the validity of such claims before sharing them.”
The Good Samaritan and his family left town, fearing for their safety.
While I can definitely understand the fear that must have overcome Strickland when he thought the man was trying to kidnap his daughter, I am appalled by the ongoing efforts to ruin the life of a man who was only trying to help. I hope it doesn’t make anyone think twice before helping someone in need, but I fear it will.
(Image: iStock / DGLimages)