Quick thinking can save a life, especially when it comes to helping those most vulnerable around us. This summarizes the move made by a brave umpire at a youth baseball game in Jacksonville, Florida. When Aidan Wiles noticed a 7-year-old catcher being swarmed by a dust devil and unable to escape from it on his own, he quickly sprang into action. The video of the frightening moment has since gone viral.
This rescue took place during a Mother's Day game, where Fort Caroline Athletic Association Indians played the Ponte Vedra Sharks. In a matter of seconds, a dust devil formed after a batter had stepped aside. Sharks catcher Bauer Zoya became engulfed in it, and was really struggling to get out due to the dirt and debris flying around him. “I was scared and I got afraid if someone would pull me out,” Bauer told News4Jax. “I couldn’t breathe that much, so I held my breath and I feel like I couldn’t touch the ground. So I kind of lifted up a little bit.”
Noticing he was in trouble, the 17-year-old umpire quickly lifted him and brought him to safety. “I just saw him freaked out, just like trying to fight his way out of it, and I knew his little body couldn’t get out of it himself, so I just rushed in and got him,” Wiles told Action News Jax.
The rocks scratched up the umpire's chest and stomach, but he knew the kids' wellbeing came first. “I was worried about his safety because when I got taught, the players’ safety is always the first thing,” Wiles said. As for the little player, he was scared for a second until he realized what was going on. “I thought it was like the tornado coming right behind me, but it was actually Aidan right behind me, and I didn't know that. I couldn't really breathe in there. I was really happy when he pulled me out.”
It all happened in a matter of seconds, but for Zoya, it felt like he was trapped for 10 minutes due to the danger and stinging of it all. Once he was freed, he ran up to the stands, where his dad poured cold ice water in his eyes, and in no time he was back in the game.
Dust devils are not as threatening as tornados and other natural phenomena; however, they can still cause severe injuries to those in their path. “Even though they are generally smaller than tornadoes, dust devils can still be destructive as they lift dust and other debris into the air,” writes the National Weather Service. Either way, they can cause severe injuries, due to their violent nature. “We have seen cases where very strong dust devils have reached speeds of 70 or 80 miles per hour and actually lofted tents and things into the air,” meteorologist Dawn Johnson told 2News.
Although Bauer's team eventually lost the match, he did gain a new friend for life. The brave umpire was also commended by the pitcher's parents for acting quickly before tragedy struck. “A kid that just had the presence in mind to just do that, it’s just special to see,” said Brian Zoya, Bauer's dad. “It was pretty cool to see yesterday. He had great parents raising him.”
When umpire Aidan Wiles noticed a 7-year-old catcher being swarmed by a dust devil and unable to escape on his own, he quickly sprang into action.