Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters brighten boy’s day with new bike
June 19, 2012
By Christina Corrales-Toy
When Tudor Magda woke up May 14, there was no way he could envision what the day’s events would entail. It would be a mixture of good and bad, but ultimately, it would be a day to remember.
It was a sunny, nearly cloudless sky. The area was graced with one of the warmest days of the year. For the Issaquah Valley Elementary School fourth-grader, it was the ideal day to ride his bike to school.
Tudor was careful. He made sure to look both ways before traveling across streets and obeyed pedestrian crossing signs.
As he approached the crosswalk across from the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, the one connecting the library parking structure to the apartment complex, he gradually slowed his bike. Simultaneously, a car neared, preparing to turn toward the crosswalk. As the car slowed, Tudor took it as a sign that the driver allowed him to cross. So, he proceeded.
But the driver failed to see him. Tudor and his bike were struck.
Tudor sustained a few scrapes and bruises, but the bike took the brunt of the damage.
‘I need to go to school’
When Eastside Fire & Rescue personnel responded from nearby Station 71, they were surprised at what they found — a calm, thoughtful young boy that, despite the traumatic event he went through, was intent on getting to school.
Right away, firefighters Jason Stotler, Mark Harper and Lt. Russ Tanner said they knew that Tudor was special.
“It kind of struck me how calm he was,” Stotler said. “I was pretty impressed with his demeanor and how he handled himself, especially after just getting hit by a car.”
After the accident, Tudor attempted to pick up his mangled bike and continue on to school. But with a busted pedal, it was clear that the bike could not be salvaged. Still, Tudor’s only thought was getting to school. His resiliency amazed Stotler, Harper and Tanner.
“Usually when you are talking to a young kid, you kind of expect him to say, ‘Oh yeah, maybe I’ll actually go home,’ but the first thing out of his mouth was ‘No, I need to go to school. I have to go to school,’” Stotler said.
For Tudor, whose favorite subjects are math and writing, going to school was a way to cope with the accident. He wanted to get it off his mind and focus on his studies for the day.
“I just wanted to go to school,” he said in an interview last week. “I just wanted to forget about it.”
Tudor would get to school, and he would do it extravagantly, hitching a ride on the fire truck.
But before he did, he noticed the driver. Tudor wasn’t angry at the driver who had just hit him. He didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment or relief as he saw the driver taken by police. His first emotion was sympathy. Not for himself, but for the driver.
“At first, I felt bad for the driver that hit me,” Tudor said. “I thought he was just a guy that just accidentally ran over me.”
A genuine character about himself
It was Tudor’s caring attitude that sincerely impressed Stotler, Harper and Tanner.
“To be more concerned about the guy that hit you, rather than yourself and the bike, just that comment right there says he has a genuine character about himself, and it just stood out to all three of us,” Stotler said.
After Stotler, Harper and Tanner dropped Tudor off at school, the boy’s endearing attitude stuck with them. So, the three men came together and with their own funds bought Tudor a new bicycle, helmet and lock.
“You know there are times that you come across individuals and it’s such a great experience with them, even though it’s not always a pleasant experience when we are being called,” Stotler said. “But this little boy had such a positive attitude and we thought it would be really neat if we could come together and pick up a new bike for him.”
Stotler, Harper and Tanner arranged to meet Tudor and his parents after school to present the new bike. It was an exciting surprise for both Tudor and his parents.
In fact, the new bike is definitely an upgrade, according to Tudor.
“The new bike is really, really good. Even better than my old one,” he said.
Strength, courage and their best personality
Veronica Magda, Tudor’s mother, said she truly appreciates what Stotler, Harper and Tanner did for her son.
“We really want to thank them,” she said. “We are very thankful for everything they did, especially for the bike and also for taking such good care of Tudor. They understood him, they tried to make things better, you know giving him a ride. They knew that for little kids, things like that matter a lot.”
Marius Magda, Tudor’s father, agreed and commends Stotler, Harper and Tanner for the work they do every day.
“I know it takes a lot of strength and courage and their best personality, and everything they do for the community, it’s amazing,” he said. “This could have happened to anybody, so it’s just one of those things where we’re thankful it wasn’t worse.”
When the firefighters’ union, Local 2878, heard about the situation, it reimbursed the three through the group’s benevolent fund.
Stotler and the men are quite humble about their good deed.
“When we can, we like to help out in those types of ways and it just happened to be the right timing,” Stotler said. “But that’s not to say that other firefighters wouldn’t have done it too.”
Now, Tudor is understandably a bit tentative when crossing streets.
“Now I’m a little bit scared, because when cars come, I’m afraid that they’re going to hit me,” he said. “I look three ways, four ways now when I cross.”
He’s more cautious than before, but he’s not letting it stop him from riding his bike to school. Now he is doing it in style.
Christina Corrales-Toy: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com