Sherry and Marlene Rials were driving down Douglas Rd. toward Grant’s Burgers in Ferndale when they encountered a sight they will not likely forget: In the middle of an intersection, three teenagers were assaulting a young boy. “He looked like about 12 years old, his feet weren’t on the ground, they were throwing him around,” Marlene said.
Sherry had her phone out ready to call the police, but her mother feared the authorities would arrive too late to save the boy’s life. With hardly a moment’s consideration, Marlene got out of the car. “I just stood on the other side of the passenger’s side where I got out and, I screamed stop!” she said, “because I could just picture that kid falling on the pavement, that’s what I was thinking in my mind.”
At first the teens ignored her cries. But Marlene shrieked as loud as she could, calling out to the boys to stop. When she finally got their attention the teens looked away, surprised. One of them claimed the kid had tried to break into their apartment. “My daughter said ‘Well, why wouldn’t you call the police?’ I didn’t think it was true, I thought they were just bullies.”
The assailants drove away in a pickup truck. Sherry tried but was unable to get their license plate number. Marlene commented, “I can’t believe he was even walking, the way he was bent over and his stomach was… he was holding his stomach.”
Stranger yet, before Sherry and Marlene could cross the street and help the boy, he and his friend mounted their bicycles and road away. “So then we looked. We went down the road, and we couldn’t see if they went into a house, or if they were in an alley, we don’t know what they did. I said, well, can call the police now, but what do I say?”
Sherry has worked with troubled youth for years, in programs like Youth in Action and Renton Academy. But Marlene said this was the worst thing she had ever seen. “I’d never seen anything so brutal, these three big guys, beating on this young boy, and I thought, they are going to end up killing him, within seconds. Because he’s going to fall on that concrete, they’re going to go to prison, he’s going to be gone. For what?”
But the most perplexing thing about the incident is the lack of response from other witnesses. There were two men in their thirties watching from a nearby truck stop. Two young girls looked on and laughed nervously. Marlene saw two cars drive around the scene of the assault without stopping. “How can you not get involved when you see something like that?” she said. “He could have been killed.”Luckily for that anonymous boy, Sherry and Marlene were not only paying attention, they acted quickly to save his life.