Young and foolish

Published:

Who of us can honestly claim never to have done something almost as stupid as the stunt pulled by three young Frankfort men who risked their lives and ended up in police custody at Niagara Falls in New York state over the weekend? Taking idiotic risks is a part of growing up that most survive, somehow.

Adam Jones, Michael Samples and Edward Goins almost didn’t. Lt. Patrick Moriarty of the Niagara Parks Police told State Journal reporter Lauren Hallow the 20-year-olds ventured into a forbidden area at the base of Horseshoe Falls where police had never before had to perform a rescue because most had the good sense to stay away. The Frankfort adventurers apparently misjudged the power of the rapids that could have pulled them under, or knew the risk and decided to take it anyway.

Like many daredevils, perhaps they also did not take into account that public-safety crews would have to put their own lives on the line to get them out of their predicament.

When it was all over, they found themselves handcuffed and led away by police officers to stand before a judge next month on misdemeanor counts. They’re charged with disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment. One is also accused of possession of a controlled substances. That alone was enough in the 1978 movie “Midnight Express” to land an American student in a hellhole of a prison after being caught with hashish while preparing to board an airliner out of Turkey. The character, Billy Hayes, ends up with a life sentence and has to kill a guard to make his escape, having learned, as other young people do in real life, that not every place on this planet is as tolerant of drug trade as America.

If the Frankfort men are convicted of their charges, they could serve 30 days to a year in jail. But with effective legal counsel, our hunch is they’ll get mercy. Some judges can remember when they were young and foolish too, and tend to make allowances in such cases. Not a few of the black-robe class are lucky they didn’t get fitted for orange jumpsuits when they were younger. Lt. Moriarty, the New York police officer, said the Frankfort trio don’t seem to be bad kids. That was our impression, too, from the sheepish look they wore while being escorted from the scene of their indiscretion.

Theirs is an awkward age – too old for juvenile court but old enough to vote and serve in the armed forces while being denied the legal right to buy alcoholic beverages. They’ll come of age on their next birthdays and should try to exercise better judgment than they did at Niagara. Perhaps they’ll have to explain to some future employer how they got arrested for flagrant disregard of their own and others’ safety – a mistake even more reckless than some of their contemporaries make when they spill their guts on Facebook without considering how the dispersal of private information can expose them to public embarrassment or worse.

The best news for family and friends is that no real tragedy occurred. Going to court is no picnic but at least they’re not going home in body bags. They’ve been given an opportunity to contemplate what could have been and to weigh the advisability of making better decisions as they progress into adulthood. They’ve been lucky. Let’s just wish them wisdom in case the luck runs out.

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  • I have been there and you are right, they were on "private property" and the government had every right to remove them. We can stipulate that but that was not what I was questioning, which was the embellishment of this into a fictionalized accounting by the author and those who posted thereafter. The facts just weren't there to support it.

  • Sorry but capntrade is right.

  • I'm not sure who first used the word "rescue" (probably the SJ staff writer), but they WERE trespassing -- I'm sure there were many signs telling them NOT to go past this line -- and had to be removed from the area; it was no doubt a liability issue for the authorities. D'oh; this is something you teach your children around the age of six.

  • I'm with anonymous_1713. I looked at a couple of news reports from the Buffalo area and was left with the impression the police decided they needed to be "rescued".

  • I'm with anonymous_1713. I looked at a couple of news reports from the Buffalo area and was left with the impression the police decided they needed to be "rescued".

  • Who says that these guys were really in danger and in need of a rescue? Were they unable to walk back out the way that they came in? Just because they were trespassing, does not mean that they were in mortal danger. There is a lot of real estate around that falls and for miles downstream that is forbidden to the public. According to the story, these guys were not in the water, but on the rocky shore near the falls. The boys parents weren't within hundreds of miles of their sons, so how again were they "enabling" them? And who was actually performing the dangerous "stunt", the guys who walked in along the shore or those who rappelled in from the top to "rescue" them? A really dangerous stunt would have been to run the falls in a kayak, or get into a barrel and go over.

  • I hardly ever agree with capntrade but here I am once again agreeing with him. He's right kids are getting off way too easy nowadays. Besides these are not children but 20 year olds. This is twice within a month or so I have agreed with capntrade....it must be a full moon.

  • Of course, we'll just overlook the fact that the rescuers, who had to perform their jobs, were at risk of losing THEIR lives or incurring serious injury in the process because of this little stunt, and then there's that whole "breaking the law" thing. But "boys will be boys," even when they're grown men, if their parents enable them.

  • kudos to whoever wrote this article, very well done. and i would agree, though i'm not a bible person, i like 'let he who is without sin...'. and i was one of those totally out of control kids, that looking back, just extremely thankful no one ever got hurt or arrested. these kids should not have a record follow them around the rest of their lives. but i would submit they perform community service and pay for their rescue.