Finding Their Way Out

Bill Landauer: Mindy Bennett dreams of the day.

She will pack her things.

She will pull onto Broadway and turn south on Main Street. She will reach Interstate 83 and head for Baltimore, where a new life waits.

She will leave Red Lion, the old cigar factory town in southeastern York County where she was raised. She’d been a basketball player. She’d dreamed of being a model. She’d had her first kiss there. But she also will leave behind April 24, 2003, and the moment that, for almost a decade, has made leaving impossible.

A steady flow of antidepressants, psychiatrists and psychologists helped Bennett learn to talk again about that day.

Maybe a firecracker had snapped, or a balloon had popped, or, perhaps, somebody pulled off a practical joke. Then she saw the blood on her principal’s chest and knew.

As a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Red Lion Area Junior High School, Bennett faced a choice that would have paralyzed an adult.

Do you stop to help a dying man?

Or do you step over him to save your own life?

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