I Really Hope we don’t Overreact

Today was a sad day in Seattle.  This morning, about 8:00, I went over to visit Tim and to steal skittles from Coni’s desk (she is in AZ).  I looked out the window and saw this.



We didn’t know it then, but it turns out a news helicopter for KOMO 4 news, lifted off, and somehow lost power and crashed into a car.  Sadly the occupants of the copter died, and the person in the car ended up with severe burns.

However this post is not about the crash, but my worry about the aftermath.

As you might expect, this was the main topic of discussion at work, as well as taking over all the news stations in town.  Our cafeteria TV had this, the investigation and press conferences going all day long.  I am really interested in finding out why it happened. and I feel terrible about the loss of life and injuries.  Its very sad.

What got my hackles up though, was the number of people asking. “Why are helicopters even allowed to fly there???”  “Who allowed it?”  “Isn’t it too dangerous??”

Folks, for the 20+ years I have worked at the Mighty P, I have seen the copter take off or land almost every day.  That’s thousands of take offs and landings.  Never once has there been an issue downtown.  Now, one time, something happens, and the knee jerk reaction is to change the rules!  Save us all!!

And its not isolated to a helicopter crash.  Recently, a girl turned 16 and she decided she wanted to go sky diving as a present.  it was a tandem jump, the chute fouled, and they crashed to the ground, but they survived.  She was seriously injured, and will need a lot of further treatment, but she is alive to tell the story.

But what did I hear recently, the US parachuting association has raised the minimum age to jump to 18!  Even with parental permission!  Why??  Is it that people didn’t understand that jumping out of a plan was dangerous?  I think back to when I was 16, if I coulda gotten Mom’s (ok Dad’s, Mom no way!) permission to jump, only to be told it was too dangerous, I’da been livid.

We have a trail that leads to some snow caves north of me, I hiked up to them when I was 7.  There are signs that say “Do NOT climb on top or go inside caves!   Danger!”  I read them and still considered doing both.  Mom and Dad read them, and rode close herd on us kids keeping us safe.  Works pretty well.

But ever few years someone ignores the signs and dies.  Suddenly there are torches and pitchforks, “WE MUST CLOSE THE TRAIL!” Really?

Folks when I stood next to this sign I knew the risks.IMG_0284

But I wanted the picture.

Carbon Glacier Mt Rainier right in front of the sign that says do NOT stand here.
Carbon Glacier Mt Rainier right in front of the sign that says do NOT stand here.

But yes I know, the examples I gave after the copter were people who were assuming the risk.  The guy in the car was there minding his own business and he was hit by a falling aircraft.

True, but I will tell you right now, I am sure there are at least 2 – 3 car accidents, a month at this very spot.  Over the years, I am betting there were even many more than just 1 fatality at this same point in the last 20 years.  But we haven’t banned cars!

I want to know what happened to the chopper.  I am hoping they can then fix the problem to prevent it from happening in the future.  But all I am asking is to look at it rationally.  What, realistically, are the odds of something like this ever happening again.  I am betting pretty slim.

So don’t change rules just because, think it through, allow people to understand the risks and make their own choices.

There is a much better chance that someone here in town will see THIS

Space needle, Moon


Than the smoke above.  Sadly, people just don’t always understand that.

3 thoughts on “I Really Hope we don’t Overreact

  1. Interesting post. There’s a lot of psychology involved in this – the need to understand and the need to believe we’ve acted. It’s not in our nature to note that this is a statistically acceptable fatality rate that doesn’t require a change to law/procedure. Whether the change actually does any good is largely irrelevant – it’s the need to believe we’ve acted that matters more. Similar reactions occur after a school shooting.

    I’ve also noted that certain types of death are “more acceptable” than others. You correctly point out that car fatalities are much more significant, but there is little outcry to change the laws to prevent them. Some diseases are viewed as more significant than others regardless of their lethality. We are emotional creatures, and I guess it isn’t very realistic to expect that logic alone will dictate our response to tragedy.

    1. Excellent points, and I guess it’s the “change for the sake of changing” I am hoping doesn’t happend. You are right, I work for an auto and home insurance company. I hear about crashes and fatalities in the same places every year, but no changes.

      However, for safety, I can’t bring a back pack full of gortex into a Seahawk game anymore on a raining November weekend… Logic, as you point out, does not always guide decisions

Leave a Reply