September 12th, 2008
08:55 PM ET

Why a dad puts his children at risk

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/12/art.ike.surfside.jpg
caption="Water blows over a roadway as the effects of Hurricane Ike are seen in Surfside Beach, Texas."]
Susan Candiotti | BIO
CNN National Correspondent

How do you explain why a father would think he could ride out a storm with his teenage children?

On the island called Surfside Beach, a father did just that. Police finally convinced him to get out and all three got on a couple of jet skis with their two dogs.

The dad didn't want to talk about it and sounded cavalier when I asked him why he waited til waves were chest high to get out. "The surf is great," he told me offhandedly.

About a dozen rescue workers risked their lives to get them out of harm's way. A police sargeant shook his head. "We beg 'em and beg 'em to leave and then they cry for help."

Go figure. How can a dad put his children's lives at risk?

Post by:
Filed under: Hurricane Ike • Susan Candiotti
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Allison

    I live on the coast, and I have heard all sorts of crazy excuses for
    staying behind. Everything from thrill seekers like this guy, to
    stubborn men (it is usually the men by the way) who think that
    they can actually save their home, themselves, and their belongings in the event that it gets smashed to bits by the hurricane.

    I was reading your other blog about why people stay behind, and
    it was also mentioned that many of these people are poor or they have
    pets, so a hotel is not an option.

    A suggestion would be to buy a tent (in advance, during the off-season – you can usually find a large one for 60.00) and use that as a back-up should you need to evacuate. This way you can take your pets with you in the car, a cooler of food from whatever you have in the refrigerator, and head off away from the storm to camp for a couple of days. No matter what, the storm is going to do what it is going to do, and your staying behind only puts yourself and rescue workers in danger. While the tent might be a large investment for some, it is something you can always have and use in times of emergency. A less expensive used tent might be found on an internet auction site.

    Only medical staff (for those people in the hospital) and rescue, clean-up workers should stay. They will be the one's that clean up the downed power lines and remove dangerous debris in order to make the town safe for re-entry of it's inhabitants. They should not also have
    to be running around rescuing people who refused to go to a shelter
    or did not leave because they didn't want to (or for some reason could not) take their pets with them.

    Either way, your staying behind will NOT save your pets. You stand a greater risk of getting killed than your pets as they have better survival instincts than humans. Remember all of the animals that were rescued after Katrina. Many were able to find their way to higher ground, or hide in protective areas. I always believe that you should take your pets with you in the car, but if you cannot fit them, then get yourself and your family out of there by all means!

    September 14, 2008 at 9:09 am |
  2. DHI

    The solution seems fairly simple. In cases in which the Government has clearly alerted citizens as to the extent of the risk, which was certainly the case with Ike, emergency workers - and, let's remember, they are individuals, not the "Government" as an entity - should not be obligated to risk their own lives in order to rescue these people. As for the man in this case, they should have saved the minor children - even (especially?) teens can underestimate the risk to their lives - and left their father. Being too nonchalant to evacuate is only cool in the movies.

    And we should not be obligated to spend taxpayers' money. I pay my taxes to help people who need assistance to help themselves, not to save idiots. At the very least, I agree with the people who would charge him for the rescue. If people knew that they would be charged one or two thousand to be rescued, more people would act responsibly.

    September 13, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  3. Heather

    My husband is there, as part of the FEMA search and rescue team. It's idiots like this that put his life and the lives of the other rescuers in danger. When you are being warned of "certain death" and told that if you stay you should write your name and social security number on your arms in permanent marker, I would think that would be a huge clue to get out and move to safer ground. I know that my husband is with a team of people who will be very safe, and he will return home to us, in our home without any kind of damage (we live a thousand miles away, inland) and life will go on. I do feel for those who have lost their possessions, but hopefully they have their lives. It's the people that he will have to risk his life for that I can't understand. Thank goodness for people like my husband, if not for him and his team and the other first responders, the people who stay would have no one coming to help.

    September 13, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  4. Craig

    Really? Do you think people like him would care about a fine? Someone who can't contemplate the possibility that he and his CHILDREN might die won't learn any lesson. In fact – even if he survived the hurricane at the expense of the lives of rescue workers lifting him from the floating debris of his house, he would take that as JUSTIFICATION that he did the right thing. "Hey" he might think in his pea-sized brain, "I was right after all – I survived the hurricane!" There is a certain population of people – of all creeds and socio-econmic groups- who have absolutely no foresight or common sense. They stumble through life reacting reflexively to everything that occurs around them without ever anticipating or planning beyond the next 5 minutes. Then these same people seems surprised and put-upon when things turn out poorly, and they expect a handout, or bailout.

    We'll see this paragon of virtue and logic again next hurricane season – wait and see.....

    September 13, 2008 at 4:35 am |
  5. Luis

    Oh please. Many of you are so sensationalist that you condemn the man here and now, but in 2 weeks when he received his ticket in the mail charging him for his rescue, you'd be up in arms and every 'reputable' news org will have him on their front page as being a victim of the government.

    You can't have it both ways folks, the government is here to provide these services for you, that's why you pay your taxes for every minute of hard work you do.

    This can't be changed no matter what McCain and Palin tell you.

    September 13, 2008 at 3:13 am |
  6. Jaime Merrifield

    I also agree too that while you do not romanticize the idiots dancing in the waves, can make example of this loving daddy keeping his children in harms way...2 19 year olde got swept off the sea wall in Corpus Christie because they were cavorting near the surf it was not even raining so they ignored the warnings!!!! I feel for their families....thanks for the great job

    September 13, 2008 at 2:26 am |
  7. Smitty

    Those of you that think this man or anyonelse should be fined or Thrown in jail for stayin in there homes on there land are nuts. The government has no athority to make these people leave because of weather. WTH. However, since they were warned of the danger they forfit any help from the government to get out or be rescued later and I'm sorry but I doubt this father made his "TEENAGE" children stay, there part of the same gene pool. Leave these people with there fates. Then lessons might be learned.

    September 13, 2008 at 2:10 am |
  8. Ashley

    Maybe he didn't want to admit that he didn't have the money for a hotel room, or the gas to get there.

    September 13, 2008 at 1:00 am |
  9. Kw Nightwalker

    I am Canadian....But I can tell you my thoughts are with all the families who are being effected by this large storm...name IKE which is currently hitting Texas. As a parent and a School bus driver....it makes me utterly disgusted that some parent would put thier children a risk and try to ride out the storm.

    If I would have been the autorities....I would have thrown his butt in Jail and then taking the children to safety... The father who would do that is an utter moron....


    September 13, 2008 at 12:52 am |
  10. Shane

    Charging the idiots that stay is a GREAT idea...I don't think the man meant that the "surf was great"; his ass was embarrassed and couldn't think of anything truthful to say.

    September 13, 2008 at 12:33 am |
  11. Jill

    I agree with JOSE – Daddy may not get it this time – but he would sure get it next time.

    September 13, 2008 at 12:26 am |
  12. Sue

    How can anyone be so nieve? And put harm upon your own children????? This is the worst?
    Wake up........at least care for your family if not for yourself!

    September 13, 2008 at 12:20 am |
  13. heather

    If a parent wants to look death in the face..their choice but they should be prosecuted for endangering the lives of their children!!! Hold them responsible in a court of law!! We legally have to put children in car seats (I agree with this) but if that is punishable by law then way not neglecting a MANDATORY evacuation???? Also if they were told to leave and need to be rescued they should at least have to pay a fee for the service...why should we pick up the tab?
    I saw the idiot who said "the surf's great" What a fool he should get a bill from the rescue workers and see how much his stupidity costs!!

    September 13, 2008 at 12:02 am |
  14. JOSE

    I suggest you charge him the cost of getting him and his family out of their home. He should also pay for man hours, fuel etc.... Furthermore, a hefty fine, $15,000.00 would do. He put rescue worker in danger just for kicks.


    Some people just don't get it.

    September 13, 2008 at 12:01 am |
  15. Colleen

    Well, I'm not so sure I would announce my personal reasons to a CNN correspondent. I might sound cavalier in a little sound byte conversation also. There are lots of reasons why people do what they do. Some could be quite valid but might not be something for the microphone stuck in your face media.

    September 12, 2008 at 11:53 pm |
  16. Diane McKeel

    I hope he was told when he calls for help he is on his own. Unreal.

    September 12, 2008 at 11:48 pm |
  17. Robert Baker

    Another arrogant, borderline narcisscist like so many in this country have become. God bless those emergency workers for not beating his behind like he needs. BTW, I think all these idiots should be forced to pay for their uneccessary rescues.

    September 12, 2008 at 11:45 pm |
  18. Wendy

    Being a sperm donor does not equal being a competent parent nor does it equal having or using common sense.

    September 12, 2008 at 11:41 pm |
  19. Tiffany

    Personally, I don't think you should get "do overs" during Hurricanes. If you are too ignorant to heed evacuation orders, you don't suddenly get to cry for help when you realize you made the wrong choice. Why should firefighters and police officers have to risk their lives to save people who have no regard for their own? It's just unfortunate when parents sabotage their kids with poor choices, like this dad.

    September 12, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  20. D.C.

    He needs to be charged.
    All parents that keeps their children in the Hurricane area after being mandated to leave should be mandated to juvenile/ family court. rooms and let them explain their death wishes on their children.
    Do they need the children?

    September 12, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  21. Greg Wood

    I don't understand why the police did not arrest him for child endangerment.

    September 12, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  22. Trish A

    Susan I can't for the life of me understand how a father could make such a choice for his children. And after hearing the story of the man (sorry I forget his name, senior moment) who told the story about his family staying in their home during Katrina and the water coming in around them, really gave me an insight of the risk involved with such a decision. It is unrealistic to think that Emergency Crews can handle these types of crisis during such violent storms. And it is irresponsible to put them at such a risk as well. I just hope the majority of citizens along the coast chose to evacuate!

    And I hope all the CNN Crew covering this Storm are safe and putting themselves first!

    September 12, 2008 at 10:59 pm |
  23. Bill W

    I feel they should pay the full cost of a rescue and charged to the fullest extent of the law if any of the rescue crew are harmed

    September 12, 2008 at 10:55 pm |
  24. FLCarole

    This man should be jailed for stupidity and child abuse.

    September 12, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  25. Tom

    Shouldn't these people have their children removed by Family Services? I think it is child abuse...in a way.

    September 12, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  26. Heather from Canada

    I think this is disgusting...It's bad enough when you put your own life at risk , but when you involve your Children it's a total different story . Shake your head Buddy .

    September 12, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  27. Claire

    I do not understand how people will stay even when told they could die. Even if there is a 1% chance that I could die I would leave. Not to be mean, but it's so thoughtless to put other people in harms way because you're a moron.

    September 12, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  28. retractablesharpie

    Police sargeant shouldn't have to be begging- people get tickets for not wearing a seatbelt, people should get tickets for likewise risking their lives through stupidity. Dad should be cited for child endangerment and stand in front of a judge to explain why he shouldn't be thrown in jail and have his kids taken from him.

    September 12, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  29. DGreene

    Unbelievable. This guy should be getting a call from Child Protective Services. He doens't value his own life nor those of his children. LOSER.

    September 12, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  30. jrq La Habra, Ca.

    These people, who don't leave should pay for their rescue! Not kidding!

    September 12, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  31. David

    The father is showing his children that they can live without being socially responsible, let our tax money bail them out after they have had their fun. So what if you put someone else in harm's way. They are entitled. And you think that the government is responsible for all of our social woes. Or, perhaps the government is too reflective of our very sad society

    September 12, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  32. Dixie Stover

    This is clearly child endangerment. Much more serious than not properly securing a child in an automobile, which is punishable by law.

    September 12, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  33. Rita

    When there is a mandatory evacuation, those who choose to stay behind should pay for all the expense(s) to get them out/resue them, or pay a fine.
    Why should people put their lives at risk for them when all others have done what was told. Everyone who followed the evacuation will end up paying the cost for their stupidity.

    September 12, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
  34. J. Botter

    These people are idiots. The mayor of Galveston said earlier that she figured about 40% of the Galveston population is still there. I'm 60 miles away and even I considered getting out.

    September 12, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
  35. Andy

    A tragedy in the making. The potential of death with Ike is staggering and yet people stay. These people whether it be from ignorance, stupidity or that world famous arrogance of some Americans that nothing can hurt me. Their reasoning is that the last storm didn't happen, it missed us or wasn't that bad. Do they not realize it is a numbers game. Eventually you will get nailed ie: New Orleans.

    Very soon these fools (residents) will be begging for help and rescue. They will expect EMS personnel to put there lives at stake to save them and when they can't get to them, they and their family's will be super critical of these heroic people.

    Why do they insist on putting lives at risk. Evacuations should be mandatory and in this why not just shoot those that stay, they may be dead tomorrow anyway.

    In this guys case definately "ARROGANCE"

    September 12, 2008 at 9:17 pm |
  36. Megan Dresslar

    Yes! I agree with you, Robert....... That is not acceptable for them!!!
    I am so concern for people who refused to leave their home!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    September 12, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  37. Heather

    Just total selfishness over waves. I thought when you became a parent you put your childrens lives before your own. Wow. Hes lucky the police didnt arrest him and charge him with child endangerment or something.

    September 12, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  38. Jaime Merrifield

    that is unbelievably stupid ...I just saw a man walking his dog into the breaking surf on the Galveston sea wall .. I can not fathom that to put children and pets into that kind of risk; ok be irresponsible and have no regard for your own life but do not make this kind of de ision for those who are in your care and are innocent!

    Thank you all;as I posted also on The Newsroom; for not giving airtime to those being reckless to not give them the publicity and this discourages others...and thanks again for the excellent producing and coverage... Be safe please. Take care of AC and yourselves ..... Many of us add glued to our sets and depending on you to be our eyes, ears, and filters of information.....bless you.

    September 12, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  39. Robert B

    This is unacceptable..for the thrill..the experience..they were told...stay=death.. But now..lets rescue them. Rubbish!

    September 12, 2008 at 8:59 pm |