I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt.
But seems that the people hurt and swept into the ocean Sunday near Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park had indeed ignored Rangers' warnings to stay back from the edge of the cliffs. How tragic that a little girl died because the people around her (and in charge of her) did not listen to the authorities whose job it is to keep visitors safe.
Seven rangers were stationed to keep people from getting into unsafe areas. They'd move the crowd back from the edge, and it would comply for a brief while before surging back again to the danger zone. I don't know if this is a perfect example of Americans simply thinking the rules apply to someone else, or a case of "they're close to the edge, so I want to see, too," or some perverse expectation that park services people would erect barricades to keep people away from the danger.
Somehow, I can feel a lawsuit coming on. "If they really meant for us to stay back, they should have put up a barricade. The only thing we saw was a park ranger who told us to keep back. How were we supposed to take that seriously?"
I have had friends get frustrated with me when I get sharp and scold them for wandering off trails in areas where they are not familiar. I used to work in a newsroom on this island. People get hurt, and badly, in National Parks. Sometimes they even die. The whole point of a park is to get people into nature. This is not Disneyland - you do not ride through passively in a safe little tram. This is nature, and the rocks hurt and the waves can kill you. There are no nets along the cliff trails. We're lucky there are even hand-holds. Not all have that.
If the park ranger comes along and says "Don't go there, it's dangerous," BELIEVE IT.
It is the duty of rangers to warn visitors about hazards. It is not the duty of the rangers to make visitors smart enough to heed those warnings. And this weekend, lots of people paid for their ignorance with broken bones, and one little girl paid with her life. Her parents are still in the hospital recovering, but my guess is they will never fully recover from the stupidity of their actions.
here's the news reports about the incident:
Bangor Daily News
Portland Press Herald
Oh, and before I go, don't forget to mark your calendar for the Yes to Chocolate, No on 1 event September 10 from 7-9 p.m. at the Otter Creek Hall!