When a tragedy occurs, people often wish to go back in time and stop it. To do something, to say something.
They want to do what Dave Lightfritz did.
Lightfritz, a records specialist in AEP Ohio’s Right of Way organization, lives in a Dublin subdivision and walks his 8-year daughter every morning to her nearby bus stop. His neighborhood includes a pond around the corner and on a chilly December Wednesday two middleschool-age boys were playing along its partially frozen edges.
“I could hear them going back and forth egging each other on and daring each other to see who would walk out onto the ice,” Lightfritz said. “So I had to be the father figure. I had to be the mean guy to spoil their fun. Because you never know what might happen.”
Lightfritz walked over and confronted the kids to make them stop what they were doing. He told them that, though the pond was only three feet deep, there was the potential dangers of hypothermia, drowning, getting stuck in the mud or falling.
The kids complied and haven’t been playing near the pond since. In recognition of his commitment to Zero Harm, employees on the AEP Ohio State Safety Committee have given Lightfritz this month’s Safety Champion Award.
“It wasn’t anything. I was just doing the right thing,” he said.
For Lightfritz the incident reveals his habit of always staying alert and keeping an eye out for others. For example, he was in the grocery store recently and spotted an older woman struggling to reach for a can of soup on the top shelf.
“I started running down the aisle and my wife wasn’t sure what I was doing,” Lightfritz said with a chuckle. “I think it’s important to try to be helpful to the people around you. Maybe it’s something about being raised right in the eighties, I don’t know.”
Lightfritz grew up in Marietta close to a pond not unlike the one he lives by now. Though he admits when he was younger he wasn’t always as careful as he should have been (“we threw rocks and sticks and did some things we shouldn’t have either”) he was taught the importance of being safe. The lesson stuck with him and he hopes he passed it on to the two boys.
“You never know how just saying something might reverberate years down the road, maybe for their kids or for other kids in their neighborhood,” Lightfritz said. “You never know. You never know how one little thing you say or little thing you do might impact someone else.”
Published December 27, 2021