Monday, April 27, 2015

Trains Kill

Last summer, I got a call for a pedestrian hit by a train. When I arrived, the caller was there and just short of hysterical. She said she had seen a guy standing on the sidewalk near the train crossing. He stood there until an oncoming train was about 20 feet away, then stepped out onto the tracks, turned, and ran directly at the train.

Since the train was now stopped and blocking traffic, I figured there might be something to her story. As I started walking the track bed toward the engine, which was a couple hundred yards away, it became clear that the witness hadn't been exaggerating. There were various parts of the victim strewn all over. I finally found the bulk of what was left of him, literally wrapped around the axle of a boxcar, a good 100 yards from the crossing.

The engineer was likewise nearly hysterical. He said he couldn't believe his eyes - a guy running right at him as he approached the crossing. He'd been an engineer for 20 years, and had never seen or heard of anything like it.

A couple of us picked up all the pieces we could find and bagged them up. If I live to be 100, I won't forget collecting that half a hand. Sliced through at midpalm in a perfectly straight line, as though with a pair of scissors.


Carolyn said...

If you need to take yourself out, why do you need to inflict your end on emergency workers and innocent passersby? Why put other people who want to live in danger (trains can derail! Someone might have tried to be a hero and save them!)? Why give them a horrifying vision of your end that they must now live with? I am grateful that I have never been in a place where I want to end my own life - truly grateful I am ignorant when it comes to that experience - but I have a hard time mustering any feeling except anger and disgust for someone who chooses a method of suicide that forces others to be unwilling participants/observers.

TheTracker said...

I will always remember a 25-year-old man who had been shot five times, dead in the trauma bay. There wasn't an ounce of fat on him. He looked like an anatomical drawing. And I looked down at that beautiful, complex machine and thought about all the thousands of hours that had been spent to grow him up, teach him to tie his shoelaces, teach him to read, teach him everything he knew. And then, in an instant, this incredible machine, this thing like a work of art, hand-crafted, was smashed into uselessness by 50 cents of lead.

The waste of it. The tragedy of course, the loss and pain, but just the waste. Staggering.

Mad Jack said...

I was going to ask just who it is that cleans up the mess, but I'm not sure I want to know. I know one thing for sure; I couldn't do it without suffering from a bent mind.

Then, after dealing with all that, you have to finish your shift?