QOn July 2, 1971, a 24-year-old Fresno City University student returned home after an evening at the racetrack.
On his way home, he noticed a strange ‘glow’ and started driving towards what he assumed was fire.
He arrived at a house that was in flames. Three young girls were standing outside in their pajamas. There was also a terrified mother screaming that one of her children was still trapped inside the house.
The police had just arrived, but the fire department wasn’t there yet.
The desperate mother, Carol Mcgee, told the police and the stranger which room her baby was in – there was no time to waste.
Since the only people at the scene were the police officers and the young student, the officers broke the window and lifted the student into the smoke-filled room where the baby was supposed to be.
The stranger found the baby and picked him up. Fortunately, the baby was safe and sound. The young hero went out through the window and climbed down outside the burning house. Everything went well, except
that he was cut by the broken glass in the window.
Moments later, as the grateful mother hugged her baby, the mysterious student disappeared. At that moment, the ceiling collapsed and the boy’s room was engulfed in flames.
The young man who saved the baby returned to his life and never heard anything more about the baby he saved.
The local newspaper published a story about the terrible fire, but they had no information about the mysterious kind-hearted person who saved the baby that night. A friend of the student contacted the
newspaper to let them know that the mysterious student’s last name is Freund.
But the family was unable to find the mysterious hero, and they never got to say ‘thank you’ to him.
Many years later, when Cindy Par-Gutierrez, one of the little girls standing outside the house in her pajamas that night, wrote about the fire from her childhood as an assignment in a university course, something happened.
She wrote a thank-you letter and sent it to the local newspaper, “The Fresno Bee”, and asked them to publish her letter as an ad in the newspaper.
If the student named ‘Freund’ still lives in the area, maybe he will see this?
Journalists in Fresno Bee decided to help Cindy find the man who saved her little brother in 1971. And in the end they succeeded.
At the end of 2017, she and her sister visited Rick Freund for the first time, and were finally able to say thank you properly.
During this meeting, they told Freund that the boy he saved was a son, Robert ‘Bobby’ Mcgee. Bobby is 47 years old and lives outside of Fresno. He works as a carpenter and does wood art.
Bobby also owns a pumpkin patch in Fresno where he works in the fall months. He also runs a blood donation organization, and usually has a blood donation ambulance in the area.
“We put blood, sweat and tears into our work, and I guess that’s what I’m most proud of, that every year we save lives”, said Bobby, whose project has collected more than 18,000 blood donations over the past 18 years.
Shortly after meeting the sisters, Bobby and his family met Rick Freund at a restaurant. Bobby learned that Freund served in the military as a military policeman and that he owned a trucking company.
Unfortunately, Mother Carol never got to meet Freund face to face again; She passed away in 2003. But she did write a thank you letter – from Bobby’s point of view. Bobby only found out about this letter
when he was older.
Here is what Carol wrote:
“You saved my life and disappeared before my parents could express their thanks to you; There are heroes who don’t want to be acknowledged.
And a thank you is not enough for saving my life. But I know that mom and dad will do their best to teach me what is allowed and what is not, and to receive an example from you.
You saw what needed to be done and you did it. We will never forget you.
It’s clear that Bobby’s life was affected by that night. He works to save lives, although he does so in a slightly more organized and orderly way.
For Rick Freund, this wasn’t the first time he was the hero in the right place at the right time. In fact, he saved another stranger with the Heimlich maneuver and also saved another person’s life with
CPR at a funeral. A similar thing happened several years ago, but this time, Rick saved a man from a heart attack while they were in the woods hunting.
Rick has received several awards for heroism, and this quote sums up his life story nicely:
“You see something wrong and take a deep breath when you see that no one else will help. So you go into action and do it”.
Every time we are in a situation where help is needed, we are faced with a decision – to intervene or to stand aside and observe?
It is rare that we get to see the consequences of our decision.
On a summer night in 1971, a young man saw a family in need, offered to help and went on with his life. He didn’t do it to get recognition.
In the end, the boy he saved devoted a large part of his life to saving the lives of others.