Someone Falls Down on the Sidewalk: What Do You Do?

Someone Falls Down on the Sidewalk: What Do You Do?

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for Linda Hamilton, the woman who came to the actor's rescue in this "What Would You Do?" scenario. ABC News is actively working to make contact with Hamilton again and are looking for a way for those who have offered assistance to reach out to her. Thank you again for watching the show and for offering to help. We will update you with details soon.

Read the original story below, published on March 6, 2009:

If you saw someone collapse in front of you on your way to work, would you come to his or her aid or just walk on by? It seems like a simple question, and we all like to think that we would do the right thing, but sometimes there's evidence to the contrary.

In 2008, shocking surveillance footage of a woman's death on the floor of a New York hospital waiting room made news across the country as people questioned why she was left to die. In the video, released by the New York Civil Liberties Union, hospital staff apparently ignored her as she lay on the floor for 45 minutes, until it was too late.

And just last month in Washington, D.C., a homeless man was attacked and left on the sidewalk for 19 minutes before anyone called the police. A security camera was rolling as numerous people stopped to look and then passed right on by. Eventual attempts to help the man were too little and too late, and he later died.

But regardless of incidents like these, wouldn't the average person step in to help someone in need? "What Would You Do?" went to New Jersey with our hidden cameras to find out.

Rush Hour Test

We chose a busy street, planning to catch people at the peak of rush hour as they hurried to the nearby train station. But the morning commute was anything but ordinary. Suddenly, a woman fell to the ground right in the flow of pedestrian traffic, apparently unconscious.

What the commuters didn't know was that this woman was not really in danger. She was stuntwoman Stephanie Stokes-Smyj, hired by the "What Would You Do?" team for this ethical dilemma. Would people stop to help her, even if it meant arriving late to work and possibly putting themselves in harm's way?

A few people walked right by after she hit the ground, but within seconds, concerned commuters rushed to her aid. Diane Coward hurried over to Stokes-Smyj and knelt down beside her.

"Hello? Are you all right? Miss? Miss?" she said as she leaned over our actor. She pulled out her cell phone to call 911. "What Would You Do?" had already alerted 911 operators to disregard calls related to this ABC News ethical dilemma.

A crowd quickly formed, all offering assistance.

'I Didn't Want to Take Chances'

When anchor John Quinones approached Coward, he asked why she would take so much time out of her morning to help a stranger.

"She fell and she was hurt, and I didn't want to take chances," Coward said. "It don't make no difference if you're a stranger or not. You know, you're supposed to take care of anybody."

Time after time, people rushed to Stokes-Smyj's aid within seconds. She barely hit the ground before people were at her side trying to help. Some tried to assess her medical needs, taking her pulse and listening to her breathing. Others simply offered comfort.

"Honey, sweetie, you OK?" asked Carmen Cordero, who jumped out of her car and rushed to Stokes-Smyj's side. "Stay there, I know it hurts. Help is coming. Help is on the way, sweetie."

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