At first, Sean Redden said, he could not tell whether the "sob" and "pain" messages flashing across his screen were real or part of an internet game he had logged on to. In the end he took them seriously and his actions, with help from his mother, sheriff's dispatchers, international operators and Finnish paramedics, may have saved the life of Tarja Laitinen, 20, a business student in Kerava, Finland.
Sean was playing a character in a chat-room, a cyber fantasy world where visitors play make-believe. A new character entered, saying she was an asthmatic who had stayed late in the computer lab, got locked in and was having trouble breathing. She gave her name and address. Sean's mother, called rescue personnel, and an ambulance was dispatched. Interpol later confirmed that Ms Laitinen was all right.
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