I didn’t plan on blogging much more about Sandy, but then I made the mistake of reading a NYT profile of several deaths related to the storm. The headline reads like they were all simply unavoidable tragedies: “In Storm Deaths, Mystery, Fate and Bad Timing.”
The only problem is that they highlight two deaths in detail with profiles of the victims, but neither of those deaths were “mystery, fate, [or] bad timing.” They were consequences of very bad decisions.
The first pair of deaths the NYT focuses on is of two 20-somethings who decided to walk a dog. Okay, Sandy was a pretty long storm, so it’s understandable that the dog might need to be let out on the lawn at some point either before the storm really got going or as it was dying down. Nope. These two brilliant folks decided to go out at about 8pm (pretty much the worst part of the storm) and walk the dog under some really massive trees. At least the dog survived.
The second instance they profile I had initially seen reported last night as a woman who accidentally stepped in a puddle that was electrified. That would truly be an accident of bad timing. However, with a few more facts, we learn that wasn’t really the true scope of the story. Apparently, a giant power line came down in the neighborhood and was wildly sparking. The 20-something decided to grab her camera (also around the height of the storm) and run toward the sparking power line so she could get a picture. Responsible neighbors who were monitoring the situation from the safety of their homes apparently ended up witnessing a horrific sight when she ended up running into part of the wire and caught fire. Obviously, no witnesses could do anything in the dangerous situation, and it took emergency crews nearly half an hour to arrive while she burned.
Now, I’m not heartless, so I do feel sympathy for the family and friends of the victims. However, I can also recognize that in these cases, based on the facts the NYT has presented from witnesses, the loss to those family and friends can be directly attributed to supremely unwise decisions made by the deceased individuals. I’m irritated at the NYT because it doesn’t do us any good to call these deaths cases of bad timing. That doesn’t help others learn from the situations. It’s pretty clear by these deaths that there are plenty of people who need to learn that electricity is not some magic thing that you chase after for a fun picture and wind can kill.