Local News

Two teen girls aim to raise awareness about NC's Good Samaritan Law

Posted December 20, 2017 12:59 p.m. EST
Updated December 21, 2017 6:09 p.m. EST

— The 911 Good Samaritan Law is not well known around North Carolina, but two teens are hoping to raise awareness about the measure, which provides immunity to anyone who witnesses an overdose and calls 911 for help.

The two girls this year formed a nonprofit to spotlight the 2013 law, with the goal of reducing the number of overdose deaths in the state.

The young women sprang into action when separate gatherings with friends at Pittsboro’s Sugar Lake ended in tragedy.

"They were all drinking, and they weren’t supposed to," said Bridget O'Donnell, 18, a senior at Carolina Friends School. "But there were a lot of people there."

O'Donnell’s 19-year-old brother, Sean, was one of the teens who was at the venue and drinking illegally. During the event, he passed out.

"Around 1 or 2 in the morning, it was just my brother and these two boys, and (they) tried to wake him and they weren’t able to," Bridget said. "So, instead of getting him help or moving him, they literally left him on the edge of the water. They made a decision to leave him there because they didn't want to get in trouble."

Sean never came home, prompting his family to go out and search for him. Police were called to the scene to help search as well.

"They ended up finding his body in the water," Bridget said.

The circumstances of Sean’s death devastated the community, but a similar incident would occur about a month later.

That's when another teen who was partying at Sugar Lake suffered a health episode. During that incident, Xanax was consumed, and the victim was Boone Cummin, according to his sister, Elly, a junior at Carolina Friends School.

"Two people actually dropped him off at the quarry after 1 o’clock, and he had already done everything that kind of led to the condition he was in before he was there," Elly Cummin said. "His friends understood that, but no one wanted to get in trouble."

Abandoned at Sugar Lake, Elly's brother passed out and never returned home. His body was eventually found by police.

"It's really frustrating to see people still engaging in the same activities that led both of these kids to where they are now," said Elly, 16.

The chance of these two tragedies happening at the same spot was eerie, but that was not the only coincidence since the boys attended the same high school and were best friends.

The two girls had never met before the funerals of their brothers were held. Now, they are on a crusade to prevent others from experiencing what they have.

Their initiative is known as the Good Samaritan 911 Project, and their motto is "Be kind. Leave no one behind.”

The two girls travel around the state speaking to teens about the immunity that North Carolina’s Good Samaritan Law provides. The law mandates that charges won't be filed by calling 911 to report when a friend needs help.

"There is a large majority of kids who will experiment with stuff, and I think the most important thing is to keep those kids safe so (they) can get through those experimental years of their life because both of our brothers should’ve had another 60 years to live," Bridget said.

Bystanders who observe a friend in trouble but fail to call 911 face the possibility of being charged. But no one has been charged in the death of Sean O'Donnell or Boone Cummin.