Would You, Could You Have Been a Hero?


That’s strange terminology in relation to a hero.

I’m sure a hearing will be held on that fatal commuter train and SUV collision north of New York City. The SUV was sitting on the tracks when the commuter train plowed into it killing the lady in the SUV. The third rail providing the power to the train bent up and pierced the first rail car. When the fuel from the SUV gas tank that must have exploded came in contact with the hot third rail a fire ensued.

Five people died on the train, whether it was from impact, contact with the third rail or the fire is yet to be determined. When a railroad car strikes a vehicle on the tracks, quite often none of the railroad car passengers suffer few or any injuries, but the car occupants are almost always killed.

The person in the car behind the SUV provided details of what the lady in the SUV did. There are some further explanations that may never be known, but here’s what seems to have taken place.

Maybe the most significant detail is that it was very dark at the railroad crossing. The lights started flashing which signaled an oncoming train. The crossing gates came down, and hit the front of the Mercedes SUV the lady was driving. She got out of her SUV, possibly to assess the damage, and must have thought she was on the tracks at the back crossing gate, and not the front one. She got back in her SUV, and drove onto the tracks instead of off them. That’s when the collision occurred with the train running at 58 mph. The SUV was dragged down the tracks a considerable distance.

The man in the car behind her thought she might have been confused as to exactly where she was when the crossing gate struck her SUV.

There had to be a minimum of 5-6 seconds from the time the SUV lady assessed the damage, and got back in her car.

Here’s where you could have been a hero. Once the lady exited her SUV to assess the damage of the crossing gate on her car, you would have known she had to be confused if she were that close to the tracks. Would you have jumped out of your car to prevent her from driving onto the tracks? You would have had time.

It would have been a calculated risk. The SUV where it sat at the moment might have been close enough to the tracks to be hit by the train. Five to six seconds you had to pull her away from the SUV doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough for a hero. Would she have argued that she was already on the tracks, and you knowing she wasn’t, had to employ physical force to save her. Adrenalin kicks in, and you have more strength than you would in normal situations.

Sometimes heroes have to act instantaneously. No one can fault the man sitting in his car directly behind her. He had no way of knowing what she was about to do.

Perhaps had the car behind her been driven by an EMT, he might have recognized confusion and acted intuitively.

If one believes in destiny, then the five people in the railroad car died because it was their day to die. There seemed to be no way to save them, considering the bizarre circumstances with the third rail and ignited fuel from the SUV. There were a total of three elements of death facing them.

But what about the lady in the SUV? Think about that, because there might come a time when you are either a 5-6 second hero, or to not act, and have nightmares about it the rest of your life.




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