Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I tried

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:

CNN story
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!

11 comments:

Ghost Rider said...

It's crazy. One square meter of water weighs 1 ton. Can you imagine how many square meters of water those waves had? Or how fast they were going? The rocks at Thunder Hole can be dangerous on regular days.

Anonymous said...

That is the problem with America. We sue for everything. Lawyers are ruining this country. Too bad none of them got pulled out to sea. Also, the parents of this child should not be allowed to have anymore kids. They obviously have no common sense. Then again, common sense is gone from a lot of people. I suggest you watch the movie Idiocracy. It will help explain why. If that was my kid there is no way in heck that I am going to let him or her get near a ledge where waves are hitting because a HURRICANE IS COMING HELLO!!!!

Anonymous said...

There are times when I think the human race is too stupid to live. What is it about a sign that says "DO NOT ENTER" that looks like "cross this barrier" to some people? Unfortunately, sometimes it is the children of the ones who made the bad decision who pay for the mistake. I'm sure there will be a lawsuit, resulting in millions of dollars being spent on attorneys, court fees, etc. The upshot will be a larger sign and/or a fence, protests of same by those who don't like it, and then someone else will simply ignore the safeguards and the same thing will happen again.

Anonymous said...

The real shame is just how stupid or naive people can be. A massive hurricane is not a spectator event. A storm is not an amusement park. I've been in the Coast Guard and a Park Ranger and I have seen people die doing the most obviously dangerous things. Climbing down a sheer cliffside to save time getting back to their campsite (falling death), reaching into caves/deep cracks to see what they can pull out (bitten by poisonous animal), surfing or watching a hurricane (drowning), trying to get close enough to a tornado to feel the "pull of the wind" (hit by debris), ignoring our warning to keep food stored away from your tent (mauling), etc. It's a tragedy when someone dies in an accident, but the bigger tragedy is just how incredibly stupid and obviously dangerous these acts seem in retrospect. You have to respect nature, but nature does not have to respect you.

Alex said...

I agree. It was very stupid for any of them to ignore the warnings and then to let your kid do it?? I am sorry for her death, but they have no one to blame but the parents. I hope no one can sue, but then again, juries are still awarding money to smokers, who chose to smoke. Go figure??

Chris said...

My late wife & I were on vacation in Italy when we were hit by a rogue wave. There was no warning that a large wave (we were 20 feet above sea level & the wave was at least 10 feet over our heads) was coming, and it took both of us by surprise. It knocked my wife into sharp rocks several feet down, and she was swept out to sea. It is easy for people to say that the parents are to blame, but if you have never seen a rogue wave then you really do not understand that the ledge they were on probably seemed safe. I'm not sure what signs/warnings were up (there were none for the incident in Italy I spoke of), but I think that we just don't realize the power & spontaneity of nature. Warning signs or not, events like this can & will happen.

Suing someone over this is pointless, as it will never bring back our lost loved ones. Just my $.02...

Anonymous said...

I understand that a rogue wave can take you by surprise and that there is no good way to be cautious of that kind of phenomenon. However, I cannot understand the fascination with needing to have a front row seat to a hurricane off the coast. Indeed it may have been a rogue wave that swept these people away, but there were waves pounding the shore regardless, and everyone should have had enough sense to back up farther. It is a terrible tragedy that never needed to happen.

Anonymous said...

While the movie Idiocracy was not the best made movie, the message was dead on! Common sense, personal responsibility, human decency and intelligence are concepts slipping away from the masses. We are a society that is now degressing, not evolving.

Dusty said...

It made me very sad to hear about the child being washed out to sea and drowning.

What makes me upset is how stupid people are about their own safety most times. We shouldn't have to legislate common sense, but apparently it's the only way to reach some jackasses.

msladydeborah said...

There are just some people who really think that they are stronger than the forces of nature.

Chris said...

Before you rush to criticize the parents in this story, you need to think about a few things. There are so many safety "laws" & legislations out there that we take for granted and occasionally ignore every day. How many times have you driven faster than the posted speed limit? How often do you come to a complete stop at a stop sign? Do you really slow down driving through construction zones? Do you wear cut gloves when using sharp knives/blades? We as a society have become immersed in warning signs and cautions that we assume that one posted caution/warning is like the other. From what I've gathered about that day, it was sunny & beautiful. The sea was rough, sure, but you cannot predict when a rogue wave will strike. I'm sure that the parents in this story are much like the rest of the parents out there & would never intentionally place themselves or their children in harm's way. It's easy for anyone to judge after the fact based on the events that took place, but that doesn't do the situation, the parents, or anyone else any good. Imagine that this had happened to you or someone close to you. Imagine that you woke up the next day to the same scrutiny and second-guessing that you are putting those parents through. They will live with this for the rest of their lives & it is not right that some people feel its their place to add to it. For what reason? I just hope that you do not have to find out how it feels to be in their shoes.

You are entitled to your opinion & I do respect that. All I ask is that you remember this when you are the one being second-guessed about the ground that you stand on or the situations you place your children in.