unfortunate editorial choices

sagehen sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Thu Jan 20 17:08:12 UTC 2005

>from the 1/19/05 Palo Alto Daily News, p. 1 headline
>   Prominent
>   local hit by
>   train, dies
>the sad story of "Robert Pringle, a 54-year-old father of three and
>member of one of the Peninsula's most recognized families", who died
>after being struck by a Caltrain in Menlo Park.  the p. 1 story says:
>"The coroner has not ruled on the cause of death."
>the jump from p. 1 to the continuation on p. 58 is CALTRAIN.
>alas, the pickup on p. 58 is SUICIDE.  a precipitous judgment, an
>unfortunate editorial choice, though likely to be accurate.
>well, we have a suicide a month, roughly, on the train line that runs
>south from san francisco, north from san jose, just two blocks from my
>house.  level grade crossings, so you can just walk out onto the line
>and face your death as you want to.  distraught teenagers, the down and
>out, the lonely elderly slipping uncontrollably into alzheimer's,
>people of all ages and stations who are depressed, often without their
>friends and families having any sense of the depth of their despair.
>some of them lie down on the tracks or curl into a ball, so as not to
>be so visible.  some of them face the oncoming train right on, standing
>it's hell on the engineers who drive the trains.
An old family friend, an historian at Stanford who lived in Menlo Park, met
his death in just this manner, perhaps at the same level crossing, in 1953
or 54.  I never heard a breath of suspicion that it was suicide.  He was
totally deaf & the accident was attributed to that.
A. Murie
p.s. in another unfortunate editorial choice, I learned of this, in
Berkeley, listening to the  radio news, which declared that a man,
identified as so & so, was "decapitated by a passing train" while taking
his daily walk, &c.

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